DNA Failure – British Weapon Comics

By Jon Chandler, Leon Sadler & Stefan Sadler (Picturebox)
ISBN: 978-0-9851595-4-2

In comics we’re most accustomed to seeing representationalism and an artistic aspiration towards commercial slickness, but at its most basic the art form is about getting ideas – and far too infrequently emotions – across in sequential form: building ideas and forms to an intended climax. In its purest form, however, talking pictures is all about the act of creation.

You all know people who paint or play music for fun, but how many of you are familiar with the kind of folk who make comics for anything other than commercial or career reasons: experimental craftsmen, raconteurs and artisans with no other honest intention than to see their stories told?

Jon Chandler, Leon and Stefan Sadler are members of prolific art collective Famicon Express and are all just such rare ducks, responsible for a host of decidedly different illustrated fictions such as The Blue Family, Mega Macerator, Ride into Chaos, Blood Bike, Police Worx,  I’m Gonna Kick You in the Nuts and many more.

Drawing much inspiration from manga maestro Tatsumi Yoshihiro’s geki-ga model – comics dark, adult and frequently uncaring of the necessity to entertain – the three innovators have collaborated here to deliver a succession of events set in a feudal wonderland of sharp gritty intensity and compelling free-ranging complexity.

It’s not about the story here but if you must know, Sting and Peter are wild lads in a bad time: getting into trouble stealing, fighting and running about being rowdy, even as the soldiers and villagers stumble from fight to fight and crisis to crisis. To further complicate matters Zeta and Gewgaw want to smuggle themselves aboard a departing galleon because the greedy donkey-beating Major stole their house. Moreover, the land is absolutely rife with annoyingly pushy magic fairy-men, giant burning rats, ghostly doppelgangers and time-travelling monks.

There’s even a moment of old-fashioned illustrated prose courtesy of the enigmatic GHXYK2 & LMS before Sting and Peter burrow under the castle to enter the knife-throwing competition…

Rude, rampant, offbeat and explosively outrageous, this fast-paced, ferocious stream of consciousness saga is unpolished, uproariously free and casually brutal in a raw intellectually anti-art style reminiscent of Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit.

Here three cartoonists take turns turning many mediums on their heads, resulting in a composite scenario with echoes of classic fantasy and modern shared-universe role-playing wherein these bold British cartoon radicals co-opt the freewheeling nature of a strategic, life simulation video game and make it uniquely their own.

If you’re picky about grammar and syntax or wedded to polished art and story this exuberantly pell-mell rollercoaster probably won’t appeal, but if you love experimental bravado, tongue-in-cheek violent affray or spectacularly single-minded comedy carnage, this medieval mash-up might well be worth a few furious moments of your time.
© 2012 The Authors. All rights reserved.