Invasion of the Elvis Zombies


 Invasion of the Elvis Zombies

By Gary Panter (Raw Books)
ISBN: 978-0-915043-01-9

Gary Panter has been an iconic force in comics and the visual arts since the late 1970s, and his unique distillation of American popular culture through the frenetic lens of his savage design style (alternatively termed “ratty line” or “punk”) has been seen in as varied fields as set design (winning 3 Emmy awards for the sets of TV’s Pee-Wee’s Playhouse), interior design, TV and computer animation to record covers (for Frank Zappa, Red Hot Chili Peppers and many others).

His expressionistic, beautifully ugly, primitivist, high energy art has influenced a generation of cartoonists and illustrators including Matt Groening, whose Simpsons design style owes much to Panter’s innovations in the 1970’s hardcore punk-zine Slash and his contributions to Art Spiegelman’s legendary art comic Raw.

Born in Durant, Oklahoma (December 1st 1950, if you’re interested) he became a part of the US New Wave movement (not the British effete, big hair, big shirts and too much make-up electro-pop scene of a decade later) and worked for Time, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly and The New Yorker as well creating his own comics and graphic novels such as Jimbo, Adventures in Paradise, Jimbo’s Inferno, Facetasm, Jimbo in Purgatory, Dal Tokyo and Cola Madnes (created especially for the Japanese market). With Will Eisner, Jack Kirby, Harvey Kurtzman, Robert Crumb and Chris Ware his work was part of the traveling art exhibition Masters of American Comics which toured the country from 2005-2007.

Long considered a dominant force in punk and alternative comics, he is the leading figure of a second generation of “Underground Cartoonists”, doing much to legitimise the movement and elevating this challenging sector of graphic narrative to a position of High Art that the comics mainstream has never been able to achieve.

This slim tome, first released in 1884 and still readily available, evokes rather than tells a powerful, blackly comedic adventure in a synthesis of 1950s Americana and mass-cultural milestones. When a rural town is assaulted by a plague of dead Elvis Presleys, what is the Sheriff to do? Surreal, almost dada-ist in delivery, this is a challenging read but shows just how far the medium of comics can push its own envelope.

This volume was also simultaneously released in a Spanish language edition with the title “Invasion de los Elvis Zombies” and both editions come with a vinyl flexi-disc called ‘Precambrian Bath’ written and performed by the artist – who is also quite a polished musician.

If you’re looking for something a little stronger and less pre-digested, this is a great introduction to the works of an absolute maestro.

© 1984 Gary Panter and Raw Books. All Rights Reserved.