Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"You skipped school again?! Get out of bed! We're under attack!"
"What? I don't hear anything?"
"What are you talking about, Mom?"
"Turn on the news!"
"Fucked up shit."
One should never really giggle when the 9/11 attacks are involved I suppose, but the sight of a baffled young Noah Van Sciver looking out of his bedroom window in suburban New Jersey after answering the phone half-asleep to the sound of his panicking mum, did occasion me to chuckle as I read his one-page contribution on the inside front cover.
There's a fair amount of what one could describe as fucked up shit in this amazing anthology. I would personally describe it as comics of the highest order, but I respect the maxim to each their own. The material within this latest Kramer's collection as ever ranges from the ribald to the ridiculous, from the straightlaced to the stoopid, from the marvellously mundane to the truly out there. And beyond. It's certainly not going to be for everyone, far from it, but it hit the spot for me.
As ever, it is curated by the remarkable Sammy CRICKETS Harkham, who also pulls off the neat trick of providing my favourite contribution in the form of an extended Blood Of The Virgin period story covering as ever the slightly seedier side of American B-movie making.
There's such a variety of material contained within these gorgeously garishly covered (Lale Westvind) French flaps it is a formidable task to assimilate it in one sitting. For you, though, dear readers, I did just that. There were a lot of highlights. In terms of personal pure hit-rate, for such relatively esoteric material, it was considerably more than I could have genuinely expected, with barely a miss. Which either means that Sammy Harkham has been reading my mind, or just really has his finger on the pulse of cutting edge comicdom. I'm going with the latter.
Dash Shaw's Policewoman, Anouk Ricard's recurring Ducky Coco one-pagers, C.F.'s Liquid On Neutral, Ivan Brunetti's Stay Gold and Marc Bell's Slogan Schnauzerpg were probably my stand out favourites. C.F.'s Liquid On Neutral in particular, about someone planning a script rewrite and then promptly falling down a manhole before undergoing, well, I honestly don't know what, some sort of reality-warping experience, is definitely a contender for the most surreal contribution. It had me returning to it repeatedly just to marvel at the artistry.
There is also a surprisingly large amount of well-executed, it must be said, low-brow filth. All humorously done and frequently completely over the top like Johnny Ryan's Run. Would you expect anything less from Johnny Ryan?
All in all this is as well rounded an avant garde and absurdist anthology as you imagine could be put together. I therefore once again take a Kramer's Ergot vol 7 sized hat off to Mr Harkham for his continued commitment towards showcasing the very best of the most wilfully self-indulgent material out there. These are creators who are all making precisely the sort of comics they want to make, damn the consequences and in most cases, lack of sales. These folks would rather have the devout love of a few than compromise their creativity to reach the masses and more power to them for it.