Page 45 Review by Stephen
As above, so below.
"Grief is grief,
"No matter where you find it.
"But in this hole
"They amount to... nothing."
I've seen a lot of self-indulgent, determinedly transgressive and meaningless claptrap scrawled in biro by juveniles in their twenties or thirties, merrily mixing sex and violence, and there will almost always be a huge dong. Page 45 is a mature Real Mainstream retailer for a mature Real Mainstream readership of any age, so we don't stock such drivel.
This is not that.
Tellingly, there are no genitalia on display whatsoever.
The title is blunt - I'll give you that - but in this scathing, angry and particularly powerful instance, it is entirely merited.
To begin with SHIT AND PISS appears to be a bleak and brutal horror comic, set in a dungeon-like sewer system into which effluence pours from above, hence its weeping walls, where a "meat man", without the senses to comprehend its environment in anything but the most primitive manner cannot therefore engage with it an any meaningful manner except through violence. All this is overseen by our narrator, a skull whose sockets house a piercing intelligence which appears to be dispassionate, sitting in judgement.
So far, so heavy metal, but again, this is not that. Pay close attention to what is being said and the manner in which it's being communicated.
"Within these hallowed halls
"Of shit and piss,
"Dwell creatures so entrenched
"As to permeate the bricks themselves.
"Expertly organised -
"And in ways not dissimilar to your own."
You'll find them establishing abodes, fortifying boundaries, constantly in conflict and ravenous.
On either side of the central column of this ruled, nine-panel grid lurk more familiar city dwellers or a colony of ants. Later you may spot dead dinosaurs and medieval knights impaled on lances in the wake of a mass battle, their castle burning behind them. I don't think that's a comparison point: I believe that's the main meat.
Landry makes the most of his nine-panel grid which, as I say, is gutter-free and so may merge at any moment to form a composite image with a striking use of defining tone between each constituent element (just as his silhouettes and inverse silhouettes do throughout) so that the beats are maintained in the monologue.
They are such damning beats, not least the last one, delivered with economy and eloquence.
"Down here in the shit
"And the piss.
"Genocide is a matter of course."
As above, so below.