Aussie Comics Wunderkind Frank Candiloro keeps putting out books that plum the depths of Western Pop Culture, and his 42-page paean to 1950's teenage horror films, Mail-Order Mutant! keeps the wheels turning and the rock rolling while putting the real in surreal.
Mail-Order Mutant! is as much a love letter to comics as it is to the genres of monster movies and teenage kick flicks foisted on a culture unnerved by the advent of a nuclear age, still reeling from the psychic havoc it exploded. Candiloro says about his book:
Mail-Order Mutant! is the story of Theo Gorgo, a young whippersnapper obsessed with horror and sci-fi comics and a member of the teenage gang The Gorgos, led by his older sister Tina.
Upon encountering a nuclear missile, Theo is caught in the explosion, and ends up with various powers and abilities, all based on things he read in the funny books. Now a nuclear misfit, Theo goes to his friends for help.
But The Gorgos have other plans for him.
As this is a Frank Candiloro comic, there are all kinds of wonks and whatnots within its pages. It cooks with the crackle of energy these sorts of stories can unleash, and Candiloro's linear, black-and-white, German Expressionistic, wood-cut inspired cartooning keeps the backbeat clear, the rhythm jamming, and the whole thing blowing: GO! GO! GO!
In the late 1980s the Pixies reminded us that “Your bones got a little machine.” That machine is, of course, encased in flesh. Together, flesh and bone, we create meaning through our senses. We reach out. Touch. Caress. Love. Together, flesh and bone, we are procreant, fecund. We express our desire for others and for ourselves in the same act, using the same flesh, using the same bones. We connect, fluids exchange, life is affirmed as life is created.
This affirmation is fundamental. In fact, it has been designated a basic human need. We are driven to conjoin and sexuality surrounds this. For the artist Julia Gfrörer, though, this drive is also tinged with horror and mysticism. Gfrörer's books are full of the intersection between desire and repulsion, bliss and woe, and in this intersection Gfrörer sees a ripe darkness that exists in the world that bears a strange fruit.
Gfrörer's 2010 book Flesh and Bone from Sparkplug Comics takes this fruit and makes from it a delicious pie. It is a comic that is as ejaculatory as it is desperate. There is a hunger that drives it and it is rhythmic in its telling. The story revolves around a young man who craves death in order to be reunited with his dead lover, but he fears eternal damnation if he were to take his own life. So he turns to a witch to help him (as we all do at one point or another in our lives). But as this is a Gfrörer book, the impulses here are all layered through a carnality bred from desire. Love in Flesh and Bone is a sexual act, death is orgasmic in execution. The devil is serviced through our desires, yet this evil is euphoric and fervent, fructiferous and fertile. A man's seed is planted. What grows from there is the stuff of Gfrörer's art.