Pulp Fictions: Steve Aylett's The Caterer, Edward Gorey's The Recently Deflowered Girl, and Takashi Nemoto's Monster Men Bureiko Lullaby
Jeff Lint's 'The Caterer' Steve Aylett Floating World Comics
The Recently Deflowered Girl Edward Gorey
Monster Men Bureiko Lullaby Takashi Nemoto Picture Box
During the mid-1970s, Jeff Lint - a fictional author created by real-life British writer Steve Aylett - took a break from his pulp science fiction career and dabbled in comics. According to Aylett's fictional biography, Lint's comics career ended when his absurdist antihero Jack Marsden went on a Disneyland murder spree in the pages of his most successful book, The Caterer, thereby bringing the legal wrath of Disney down upon the "Pearl Comics Group."
Fortunately, Pearl's embers have been restoked by Floating World Comics, who've "reprinted" The Caterer's ostensible third issue. Readers can now revel in the nearly indescribable literary and visual conundrums of Marsden, Lint's smug blond jock of an alter ego and the most rigorous pataphysician to star in a comic since Bill Griffith's Zippy the Pinhead. Marsden's endless monologue of pseudoprofound non sequiturs is dark, goofy, and intoxicating: "If you want to live your life as prologue, take orders. I like dogs who respond to my commands by glancing at me over their glasses. Anyone who ignores me is a friend of mine."
Modeled visually on The Six Million Dollar Man and other C-list Charlton series, The Caterer envelops Marsden and his arch-nemesis, Sheriff Leonard Bayard, in a dingy graphics hodgepodge reminiscent of Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, and Richard Corben jamming on datura. Fake ads ("25 DEAD SEAHORSES $2.98") and a letters section ("Your Yell!") pay strychnine homage to comics at their cheesiest yet most disturbing. Aylett and company nail it: "The rules of the pataphysical game are far more dastardly than any other," wrote Jean Baudrillard. "It is a narcissism of death, a deadly eccentricity."
Dead, if not deadly, eccentric Edward Gorey was behind one of the funniest, and most politically incorrect, little books currently being bootlegged across the Net (its original appearance in a LiveJournal post devoted to found objects has been removed). Published in 1965, The Recently Deflowered Girl is a fictitious etiquette manual attributed to one Hyacinthe Phypps, who suggests the correct behavior for women who may perchance lose their virginity with a "famous crooner," while babysitting, on a cross-country bus, and elsewhere. With a tone of bemused dignity, and illustrations suggesting Charles Adams at finishing school, Gorey transcends the Playboy Party Jokes subject matter perfectly. But don't expect it to be reprinted any time soon.
Edward Gorey comes off as a model of decorum next to Tokyo's Takashi Nemoto, whose stunningly transgressive 1990 manga titled Monster Man Bureiko Lullaby (PictureBox) was recently translated by cartoonist Kevin Quigley and his wife, Hiroko. Rape, murder, a penis-headed man, and a walking, talking human-sized sperm cell with gender issues are just a few of the atrocities on display. While his cartoons apparently flummoxed Japanese readers only slightly, they seem completely beyond the pale in the post-underground context of American comics.
Adolescent aggression undoubtedly fuels much of Nemoto's craftily detailed ugly-beautiful filth, but the offensiveness is balanced by at least an acknowledgment of the boredom and alienation underlying his characters' radical what-the-fuck. By depicting human behavior at its worst, Nemoto recalibrates the limits of what we can bear to consider on a page of comics.
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