Herculian Review

This (mostly) awesome one-shot from Savage Dragon creator Erik Larsen came out at the start of March, but I only just got around to reading it. Herculian is slightly bigger than a regular comic (see photo to the left), in a similar size to 27 and Viking and with it’s thicker paper stock, ’70s-styled Marvel cover and slightly browned paper, it’s a throwback to the kinds of comics Larsen, and many others, grew up reading.

A 48 pager with a collection of short, complete stories it is whacky and often, though not always, funny. You can read an interview with Larsen about the genesis of the book here, but essentially it shows a few weird tales without a certain finned hero in sight. The best, and longest, in these pages is Guy Talk. I finished reading it yesterday and immediately gave it to a non-comics reading mate and he absorbed it all and laughed even more than I did at the punchline. A 24 page tale that was Larsen’s contribution to the annual 24 Hour Comic Day (in which you have to complete a comic within 24 hours) it is dark approach to romance. A man meets his grouchy and jaded brother in a diner to tell him of his new lady love. His head over heels status and firm belief in the power of love makes his sibling sick, as he’s been there, done that and has the heartbreak, selfishness and immaturity to prove it. Throughout this raw discussion  (that wouldn’t be out of place in an early Kevin Smith film) there are two silent, unnamed combatants fighting each other in the streets. Neither of the brothers acknowledge this battle, but Larsen creatively uses some of their dialogue to overlap the fight in key moments. It’s a highly entertaining story that whizzes by.

The rest of the tales aren’t as funny or long, but are just as strange. There’s a 6 page black and white  story called Cheeseburger Head that follows a man who wakes up and freaks out upon realising he’s..yep…a cheeseburger head.

Bacon Mummy, Carl Cosmic, Don Drake (who surprises his blind date with his duck face) and others show up here, and most are 1 or 2 page stories. 7 silent one page gags of the motionless Reggie the Veggie show the legless character in a series of similar panels in tales such as High Tide and Snow Day suffering from bad weather, and Mickey Maus adds to the political incorrectness by putting Mickey Mouse in the concentration camps of Art Spiegelman’s classic Maus.

Like all anthologies, some pages work better than others, and in fact some of the punchlines here are just odd rather than funny, but it’s worth buying for the lead feature, Guy Talk. Some stories are new, some have been seen in Image’s Popgun anthologies, but they all have a zany vibe to them.

Larsen’s work, and lettering, here is cruder than his usual charming sketchiness and the colouring is plain, but with the benday dots for tone it really does look like a long lost comic from decades ago.

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  1. […] Herculian Review « comicbookjesus […]

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