The Death of Black Mane and Feared Self, Part 1 (One Time Press)

blackmane-header.jpgMichael LaRiccia returns with another tale of the violent id-monster that won him a Xeric Grant.



56 pgs. B&W; $7.00 softcover

(W / A: Michael LaRiccia)

Self-published, diaristic comics creator Michael LaRiccia returns with another tale of the violent id-monster that won him a Xeric Grant with a sequel, The Death of Black Mane and Feared Self, Part 1.

This time, LaRiccia’s enemies are of the doltish variety as well as the medical, and the financial. First, he comes smack up against an incompetent jerk who’s responsible for training him at the big-box bookstore where they both work. At one point, LaRiccia and the jerk happen upon one another in the men’s room and enter into a shouting match that nearly becomes a fight. LaRiccia almost becomes Black Mane, the monstrous, enraged antihero who lives inside himself, and wants to beat holy hell out of his enemies.

Click for a larger image.When the jerk goes home for the day, he plays a knockoff version of World of Warcraft to blow off steam—like all the men in LaRiccia’s world, he’s got anger issues, too.

The medical issues are much more serious—LaRiccia’s beloved wife Ann Marie is diagnosed with gastroparesis, a disease that makes it difficult for her to keep food down; she’s a shell of her former self, and depressed, too.

Finally, LaRiccia hates his wage-slave job, but feels trapped by it. It’s a common problem that has a way of turning young idealists into bitter complainers, but it’s also a problem that the young and creative often find a way to beat, somehow, someday (maybe in Part 2?).

LaRiccia isn’t your average indie-comix whiner—he’s a whiner who can really draw. His gift for depicting facial expressions was evident in the first Black Mane, and it’s evident here, too. When he draws someone freaking out with rage, the spit flying from his face is just right. When he draws himself, in a moment of that ol’ male frustration with girls, his jaw is set in a consummate, doomed expression of here-I-go-again.

His sense of humor is great, too. There’s a hilarious moment involving a waiter delivering a plate of meatballs to LaRiccia and his wife just as the conversation arrives at the topic of shaving one’s balls. In another panel, LaRiccia receives an unintentionally hilarious put-down from his dumbass trainer at the bookstore: "I’m out of here, Mike. I have a Dolly Parton display to set up."

Black Mane, the wildly coiffed stand-in for LaRiccia’s anger, is hardly here, but the desultory story ends with no resolution, anyway—we’ll just have to wait for Part 2 to understand his "Death," as the title promises. The next book will also continue the nightmare tale LaRiccia weaves through this book, of a Grendel-style monster and his own Beowulf-like attempt to slay him. The art in these "Norse myth" sections is delightfully bloody and violent, and as a reader, you have to hope he can weave this epic tale of fighting into his own personal take on male violence as effectively as he did in the first book. | Byron Kerman

Click here to read an 11-page preview of The Death of Black Mane and Feared Self, Part 1. For more, visit!

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