Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"The alien entered me.
"The lizard-man and I became one entity.
"Together. We. Destroyed. My ego.
"Viewing my memories without any sense of attachment.
"The lizard reduced my existence to nil.
"And then we rebuilt.
"I was moulded into my most perfect form.
"The negative ideas that once impeded me destroyed.
"My body had been remodelled.
"My chronic conditions gone.
"The lizard fixed me...
"The lizard fixed me.
"The lizard then showed me the depths of the universe.
"I say "then" as if it happened in sequence.
"But you have to understand this was all happening simultaneously."
Of course, Box, I understand completely...! The above is about a third of a monologue from a story called The Lizard in this mind-bending collection of nine short stories, all of which definitely swing well towards the more fantastical end of the science fiction spectrum. Each one takes some bizarre conceit such as revisiting past memories as a form of therapy, a cult leader attracting followers through music and the power of social media, someone taking an abandoned giant war robot for a spin through space, or indeed being probed by an alien lizard-man flying a gigantic pyramid.
But, there's always a devious or deviant twist in every story whether it be choosing to ignore the doctor's implicit instructions to repeat the memory exactly, being poisoned by a weird drug, giant space robot copulation, or becoming ultra-successful and wealthy post-abduction. None of the stories without exception goes where you would expect, which I think is the primary appeal of these works. They have a real primal feel to them and pack an extremely powerful punch, which is all you can ask for from a short story.
I love the art too, usually black and white with one additional colour. He does like his black dot hatching too, our Box. Some elements of the illustration are clearly freehand in a loose style quite reminiscent of Johnny Ryan, yet these are combined in practically equal measure with figures and heads composed of perfectly straight lines, corners and circles that look like they could be Chris Ware's warm-up material.
Also, there are some incredibly elaborate buildings and detailed structures that defy all architectural logic. Somehow, it all comes together perfectly to produce a style as fascinating as it is unique in its totality. In comparison to his far more controlled and composed ANDRE THE GIANT, this compilation looks more like he's emptied out of the contents of his mental sketchbook and then decided to compose stories ad hoc from the various components. I like it lot! Also, each title page comes with a drawing of a different giant robot, every single one of which looks like it could batter all the Transformers and the Decepticons put together!