By Greg Houston (NBM)
Cartoonist, caricaturist, designer, educator, actor and big fan of old movies Greg Houston delights in the baroque and comically grotesque; positively revelling in taking taste-free pot-shots at societal and popular culture icons (see Vatican Hustle for more of his measured, manic musings) and his latest brilliant black and white book has a go at the very bedrock of our medium by parodying and pastiching the classic superhero scenario.
Baltimore has its own Costumed Crusader and he is the perfect symbol of a city with so little to recommend it. He doesnâ€™t have any proper powers, but the people love him and on the fifth anniversary of his first appearance the minor metropolis is holding a week of commemorative events.
Local paper the Daily Crab is following events, particularly feisty journo Tracie Bombasso, cub reporter Dud Cawley and mild-mannered, colonically-challenged reporter Jon Merrick (yes, that kind of Elephant Man), despite the rantings of unpopular on-air TV presenter Handsome Dick Denton – but heâ€™s just jealous, right?
Also determined to spoil everything is sinister conjoined villain The Priest, the Rabbi and the Duck, twisted victim of an old joke and a tragic accident involving alcohol and scienceâ€¦
Can Merrick keep his identity secret from his fellow reporters, foil the machinations of Denton and stop the three-headed Hydra of Pique? Of course he can, but along the way thereâ€™s bizarre characters old and new (keep your eyes peeled for cameos from Boss Karate Black Guy Jones and other Vatican Hustle alumni), cripplingly painful embarrassing moments and enough ugly hilarity to have a very good time indeed.
And lest you think weâ€™re being unkind to the place let me reveal that Houston is Baltimore born-and-bredâ€¦
Beneath the outrageous parody and extreme mock-heroics is another witty and genuinely funny adult romp which pokes edgy fun at everything from politicians to donuts, weathermen to beauticians, making some telling observations about heroes and how to treat them, all rendered in a busy, buzzy, black and white line that appeals and appals in equal amounts.
Warning: this book contains Six-foot talking flies and shaved, car-racing monkeys.
Â© 2010 Greg Houston. All rights reserved.