Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pop Gun War

Listed in "500 Essential Graphic Novels" as: Fantasy (Best of the Rest)
Contains: Pop Gun War #1-5 (plus new material)
Year: 2000-2003
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Farel Dalrymple
Artist: Farel Dalrymple

Knockin' out the reviews for the third day in a row here, folks.

Before we get started, let's see if I get any response with just a bit of a teaser.  I posted a while back (I think before that week or so long break I took) that I'd not spoil what was coming up.  Well, a person whom I know reads the blog said that maybe if I gave a little "coming soon" type deal, it might entice readers who are fans of or maybe had wondered about the upcoming works.

I'm gonna kinda go 50/50 on you guys with that whole theory because I honestly don't know what the next book will be.  I requested Warren Ellis' "Crecy" from the library and it still hasn't been shipped from the OTHER library sending it to my local one.  So when I get the chance to sit down and read the next book for the blog, I'll probably just grab something I already have here in my own collection, provided "Crecy" doesn't arrive before that.

Following that book, we'll have our second "Top 10" pick out of Mr. Kannenberg's "500 Essential Graphic Novels" in a book that I've wanted to read for a LONG time called "Whiteout", which some of you may be familiar with even if you're new to sequential art, because a feature film was made from the work a few years back.

So there's (an idea on) what we've got coming up.  Hope you'll check back and that you're enjoying everything thus far.

And now...  Pop Gun War...

This strange tale begins as a sort of monk-like-fellow steals a toy from a child, wins a glasses-wearing, large floating fish in a game of cards, and then gives a bunch of children on the streets stolen toys.  That's a sort of prologue.

Then we see an apparent angel, though he's all rough-looking and tattooed, crash-landing into a building and then paying a construction worker to remove his wings with a chainsaw.  He then throws them into a trash can, where the seeming protagonist of the story, a young boy named Sinclair, fishes them out of the trash, runs home, and attaches them to his back.

If you and I are of the same mindset, you're thinking, "Man, that's interesting.  And that art's strangely beautiful...  But it's a bit odd."  And the story only gets more strange from there, readers.

This story, as far as I can see, doesn't follow any traditional means of a plot.  I even flipped back through the work after I was finished to see if I was too tired or dim to get what was going on.  Satisfying myself that I hadn't really missed any key points, I resorted to the trusty interwebs to try and get some sort of explanation of any veiled concepts or anything that I could have overlooked.

I found nothing substantial except for a couple of folks comparing Farel Dalrymple to David Lynch. 

If any of you take an interest in film or stuff of a strange nature, you may be familiar with David Lynch.  I myself am a big fan of a few of his films after that fateful day my brother sat me down and showed me what I consider to be the masterpiece that is "Mulholland Dr." 

The thing with Lynch's films is that while absolutely entrancing and beautiful at times, you'll smash your head against the wall, loving them though you might not be clear on what all's exactly transpiring as you watch. 

I'd say that the people who compared Dalrymple to Lynch are pretty much spot on.

There are absolutely beautiful and disturbing moments in Pop Gun War.  Dalrymple's art is inspiring and (though I know I've been saying this a lot) like nothing I've ever seen.  There are grand scale sequences of pure artistic genius.  There are long snatches where you just scratch your head.  But it can't be denied that Dalrymple, here in what is his debut work, has created a thing of sheer magnificence in terms of what is VISUALLY portrayed within these pages.

The plot, though, if there is one, at least for me, is nigh impenetrable for now.  We see recurring characters in different manifestations, characters who seemingly can only be seen by certain other characters, images like the floating fish, talking disembodied heads, and all manner of other things that make us pinch ourselves as though we might be dreaming.

The lack of a plot, or at least one that may be flying completely over my head right now like Sinclair with his pilfered wings, is going to lead my knee-jerk reaction to this work to be one of mediocrity.  The art may be absolutely stunning, but I'm at a loss as to what may or may not be going on within this seemingly disjointed plot.

Who knows?  Curiosity may lead me to research and eventually find something more about what's taking place here.  Maybe I'll never find it or maybe the author intended an unconventional plot.

I hope to pick this work back up one day and, like that moment when my brother enlightened me to what was going on in "Mulholland Dr.", smack my head and say, "OHHHH!"

'Til then...

Mr. Kannenberg's rating: 4 out of 5
My rating: 3 out of 5
8 down, 492 to go


  1. Still reading bro. This sounds cool, but the comparisons to Lynch make me never want to check it out, because he just doesn't appeal to me at all anymore. This really does sound intriguing though.

  2. Awesome, man.

    You coming here to check all these out means the world to me! :)

    About Pop Gun War: All I can do is to reiterate what I've said above. The art in this thing is beautiful, yet gritty and urban, those two elements adding up to total fascination.

    Whoever made the Lynch comparison, though (actually, I know one of those people was Judd Winick), was again spot on.

    This story and one other piece of "bizarro fiction" I once read are like Lynch in comics and prose respectively...