Injury Comics #1 (Buenaventura Press)

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St. Louis DIY cartoonist Ted May gets some national exposure with a little help from "two good ol’ boys from South County."

 

 

32 pgs. B&W; $4.95

(W: Ted May, Jeff Wilson; A: Ted May, Jason Robards)

 

The cover to Injury Comics #1. Click thumbnail for a larger image.Comic book specialty shops have become a bit of an endangered species in recent years, but comic shops willing to stock self-published mini-comics from local creators are even rarer still. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that many cartoonists find ways to sell their wares not in local comic shops, but rather in indie-minded record stores, getting their comics into the hands of punk rocker kids who admire the DIY aesthetic and wacked-out storytelling that most mainstream publishers wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole.

 

St. Louisan Ted May, creator of It Lives and member of the mini-comics collective USS Catastrophe, creates just that type of comics. It’s interesting to see the local author broaden his horizon with Injury Comics, a new anthology series getting nationwide release from Buenaventura Press, a company better known for deluxe projects like Comic Art magazine and the anthology Kramers Ergot.

 

Injury‘s first issue opens with "Panama Red," a "teen high school melodrama" drawn by May and written by Jeff Wilson (whose comic Sap is a record store rack mainstay), telling a true story of Wilson’s youth in South St. Louis County. Having just scored some new metal records, Wilson gets offered another score — his very first joint — from the girlfriend of a pothead classmate. Being a teenager (and, therefore, kind of an idiot), he thinks the best thing to do with his contraband is to show it off far and wide until he is, inevitably, "bus-tid!" Rather than being a stoner’s tale of how awesome smoking weed is (a kind of story that, frankly, irritates the hell out of me), "Panama Red" is a look back at the idiocy and naivete of teen-hood. At 11 pages, the story is slight but still enjoyable and, most importantly, identifiable, thanks to a note perfect script from Wilson and May’s simple yet expressive art.

 

A page from Panama Red. Art by Ted May.The second feature, written by May with art by Jason "Sucker Punch" Robards, explores an entirely different kind of "heavy metal" with Manleau, a rough and tumble noir hero with a steel-plated face, a bevy of high-tech sensors, and a detachable metal hand. "Your Bleeding Face" finds Manleau running afoul of the Fighting Cock and his streetgang the Barnyard Animals, leading to an extended bout with fists and quips a’flying. It’s a hard story to peg down; the script is all over the place, from noir-style tough guy narration to Golden Age silliness ("He’s never met a blow that was too low…but neither has my robot arm!"), with profanity-laced dialogue ("Hey shithead! You’re pissing me off and now I’m in your face!") tossed in for no discernible reason except, perhaps, to appear "edgy." The inconsistency can be jarring, but the story is fun for its shear unpredictability if nothing else. Robards’ art is also a treat, inked with thick brushstrokes that give this already unusual action epic a look all its own.

 

A page from Your Bleeding Face. Art by Jason Robards.Filling up the remainder of the pages is a quartet of comic strips by May entitled "The Perils of Heracles," starring the titular caveman-esque Greek and his two clones. The strips feel more like filler than anything and even May admits he’s not sure whether the strip is worth continuing, asking readers for their input.

 

Though it’s fun watching May follow his muse in whatever direction strikes his fancy, Injury Comics is difficult to fully recommend because of its price. While it’s hard to fault a publisher for wanting to make sure they eke out a profit from a release with limited appeal, at nearly $5 for only 32 pages this book is almost 50% more expensive than comparable releases. Both stories here, though fine examples of their respective genres, are short and rather slight, meaning there isn’t a lot of meat here to justify the increased cost. Still, for those readers who are in the mood for something far out of their normal purvey and don’t mind dropping a five-spot to get it, Injury Comics would make a fine purchase. | Jason Green

 

To learn more about Ted May, visit his website at http://www.usscatastrophe.com/itlives/

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