Thursday, June 9, 2011

All Star Recommends! Ben Templesmith Edition!

In honour of the fact we have Ben Templesmith coming in store for a signing this tonight we present to you these All Star Recommends of some books he has done. All three of these will be in stock tonight so why don't you head on down, pick one up and get it signed. Mention this column and we'll give you a 10% discount.

Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse
Writer: Ben Templesmith
Artist: Ben Templesmith
Recommended by: Jess

Sometimes it’s difficult to recommend books you truly love, because you want to vomit chunks of fannish glee into the face of whoever you’re talking to. I’m going to try and hold back. I’ll try to be unbiased. I’ll try not to sound possessed.

Which is what Ben Templesmith’s Wormwood: Gentlemen Corpse is really about. Possession. Enter our hero: A transdimensional worm who’s taken up residence in a well dressed and dapper man’s corpse. He stares out of empty eyes, he speaks with sardonic joy of the weird shit that happens around him. He has David Tennant-ish hair. His grin is rictus and his cigarette is always lit. He likes the world of humans, it has booze and strippers and all kinds of fun. What he doesn’t want is demons invading the world and destroying it. So with his ‘sidekicks’ (for want of a better term, although sometimes familiars works well too) he finds a way to thwart the evil plotting. It will involve wheeling, dealing and a little bit of stealing. And a lot of tentacles.

The art is luminous, like the light on an Angler Fish. The colours sometimes bleed into each other, like you’re trying to read the book through a window while it’s pelting with rain. The eyes of characters can alternate between beautiful and slightly unnerving, while everything else seems out of focus. Silhouettes are used to great, gross advantage. It’s very, very pretty and sometimes it’s very, very disgusting. There is an amazing amount lusciously over the top violent scenes, tentacles spewing out of mouths, for instance, but you view them like you would have a smeared bug when you were a child. Isn’t it just cool?

The dialogue is conversational and dry humoured, like Templesmith’s condensed all your best drunken conversations down to the clever bits. It’s a comic you can curl up with, make time for. Possibly drink a nice whiskey with. Take it to a bar maybe, buy a second drink for the comic (but drink it yourself). It’s a world you’d secretly like to be a part of. Dark and dirty and weird.

Enjoy. Then look up it’s dirty little sister – the art book ‘Squidgirls’.

Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse is available now at All Star Comics Melbourne.

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Ben Templesmith
Recommended by: Luke

1:41am: Went to sleep at 9:30pm. Didn’t quite take, so what better than Fell to put me to sleep… right? Nope, still brilliant. So brilliant I peeled off the remaining 7 ‘cases’ I was going to save until the a.m. But that wouldn’t have suited. Honestly it is not the book of a morning person … well not unless you’ve imbibed a ‘death coffee’ and managed to avoid a ‘weaponized banana’ for breakfast.

Fell is the series I can’t shake, and likewise Snowtown where it takes place. Like Scalped it really is a series dictated by setting. On a case by case basis its inhabitants ooze, linger and ultimately confess under the scrutiny of sole bright spark, detective Richard Fell.

That is both his name and predicament it seems, having been cast out from the unnamed city to across the bridge to co-exist with the rest of the fallen. He is now entrenched, but like any man questing for redemption and a ticket back he is sticking to his rule that ‘everyone is hiding something’ so he can stay alert, afloat and alive.

A true encapsulation of art and mind, this world exists solely through the pair that have created it. Like I would never want to see another team touch Criminal, Fell does not exist without Templesmith’s twitchy, grotesque populous informed by Ellis’ encyclopedia of beast’s inhumanity to man, woman and child. We are occasionally blessed by a radiant beauty or innocent youth, though these lighter types are often the ones victimized or snuffed out so our detective has a reason to shine. Like Scorcese’s Bringing out the Dead, the town’s macabre energy is its humming lifeforce; flashes of violence and the gruesome linger, and a nun in a Nixon mask taunts the helpless and proud alike. A vibrant while bleak, desperate but hopeful crime world unto itself. So savour these 8 issues folks, and pray for more.

Fell is available now at All Star Comics Melbourne.

Singularity 7
Writer: Ben Templesmith
Artist: Ben Templesmith
Recommended by: Dom

Singularity 7 is a book of ideas, but that doesn't really do it justice. It is a deceptively simple story that can potentially be summed up in a sentence but again, to do so would be a disservice to this story crafted by Ben Templesmith. It is set in a post apocolyptic nightmare where the remains of humanity attempt to destroy the ruling power of the planet. Like was said earlier though, it is about so much more than that.

Primarily known for his depictions of horror, Templesmith's shift to science fiction here isn't as jarring as one would expect. There is still plenty of horror to be had within his creations here, they are just horrors of science rather than the super natural. Templesmith as both writer and artist creates a vast and desolate world torn apart by the corruption of absolute power. What the reader is given is a bleak depiction of the remains of humanity where the role of the hero is questionable. Through this the concerns at the story's core seem to be aimed at the dangers of how science can at one point be amazing and then at another, quickly turn against humanity. There is more though and the thoughts between the lines open up intrigue for the attentive reader.

Survival is key in Singularity 7 but the question the reader is most likely to ask is if they want anyone to survive in a world so full of corruption. It could be called an alien invasion book, a post apocolyptic book, a book of survivors, a journey or a book of hope. All these genres apply to some degree but Singularity 7 isn't about classification, it is about taking concepts familiar to these genres and, like its characters, corrupting them in unique ways. It makes for a great read.

Singularity 7 is available now at All Star Comics Melbourne.

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