Not really a review, but I had a few words to say about Modern Animals from Fifth Dimension Comics. NSFW language ahead.
Writer: David M. Brown
Letters: Mira Mortal
The fine folks at Fifth Dimension Comics are back, and somehow the team of writer David M. Brown and the mighty D.N.S. have managed to top themselves. Again.
Like The Magician (read about it here) Modern Animals ditches the surreal, dreamlike, horrors of Obscura (here), for the mean streets, and meaner people of Los Angeles at the tail end of the 1970’s or early 1980’s.
I’m not going to go into the plot, other than to say it involves drug fueled deaths (not accidental death, either) torture, revenge, the porn industry, losers, creeps, perverts, murderers, and assholes of all sorts, snowballing to the finish. If the snowball was made of cocaine, blood, spent bullet casings, and spooge… And then that snowball was inserted forcefully into the gaping, leaky, anus of a blonde porn star. I believe the proper term for that anal-leakage is ‘butterscotch’
That is by far the grossest collection of words I have written for this site.
In trying to decide how to describe the book, I keep settling on a 70’s cinematic vibe, not the wide release films of the decade, more grindhouse. Like if The Last House On The Left era Wes Craven made a brutal EC Comics style film. There is a character, while not necessarily supernatural, is a horrifying sight in that gleeful, Creepshow sort of way. I felt like I did after watching something like The Last House On The Left, Cannibal Holocaustt, or I Spit On Your Grave, all movies I love, but… None of them are an easy watch. I had to read 3 issues of Marvel’s Damage Control directly afterwards to lighten the mood.
Writer David M. Brown’s script and dialogue drop you effortlessly into the world of pornography, drugs, and crime. It’s a world where, like the real world, your life can forever be changed (or ended) by a bad decision while under the influence, or because of who you choose to surround yourself with. It’s not the uptight, “you do drugs, you have sex, you die,” moralizing (while at the same time titillating the audience) of say, the Friday the 13th movies. It’s even at times, a bit sweet, and poignant, though ultimately bad things happen to bad people.
Artist D.N.S. is again the perfect complement to this story, his art is open, edging towards surreal at times, and delightfully grotesque at others, has grown again. There was maybe one panel that lacked a bit of clarity as to what was happening to who, but it’s a minor quibble, and may have been me reading too fast. Modern Animals is split into 3 books, with books one and three featuring a reddish hue, and book two using a blue. I don’t know that I would call it a wash, as it appears to be marker based (update: it’s brushes for the art, colors added after digitally ), but it’s a subtle way to separate the books, and bookend the story. D.N.S. really gets to cut loose with a certain character in the EC Comics way I mentioned.
Special mention should be made as well of the letters by Mira Mortal, which fit perfectly with the art without distracting from it, while still being a bit more ambitious than a lot of more basic lettering, with everything being locked into balloons or dialogue boxes. Generally, the best letters are the ones you don’t notice, but they can also become a part of the story and fit in perfectly with the art, that contributes to the overall aesthetic of the story.
You can pick up Modern Animals from Fifth Dimension Comics on ComiXology here.