Outposts: Death Deals and Quiet Human Contact

Posted by on July 24th, 2010 at 5:23 AM

Rob reviews Death Deals, by Eamon Espey; and Quiet Human Contact, by John Hankiewicz, Austin English, Juliacks, Onsmith, and Siobhan Calnan.

Let’s take a look at some highly unusual entries from the world of comics…

Quiet Human Contact, by John Hankiewicz, Austin English, Juliacks, Onsmith and Siobhan Calnan.  This is a minicomic featuring drawings by artists that roughly make up the comics-as-poetry All-Stars.  The comic is organized into sections wherein each of the five artists does a variation on a particular theme or image.  English kicks off each section, with his blobby, crude style he’s been employing over the last couple of years.  This look doesn’t do much for me in black & white when he starts to over-render.  Simpler drawings, like a couple getting ready for bed, have a gentle simplicity that’s more appealing.

Juliacks’ drawings are my favorite in the book, in part because I feel like she was the one artist who really responded to the drawings of the others.  While there are her usual immersive drawings that are heavy on blacks, some of her renderings incorporate white space while others emphasize the unusual character design of Onsmith and Hankiewicz.  Calnan’s drawings seem the least distinctive, which is understandable considering the unique styles of the others.  Onsmith’s drawings are the funniest and most disgusting, while Hankiewicz is all over the place with sketchbook work and typically oblique juxtapositions of images.  He also experimented with blobbier images and collage work.  This is a minicomic that rewards multiple looks, as one can see connections between pieces both obvious (like a Republican party pin in one drawing and an anthropomorphic elephant in the next) and subtle (mostly in terms of gesture).

Death Deals, by Eamon Espey. This is perhaps the most intense of all of Espey’s comics, and that’s saying something.  Drawn in his exacting, almost vibratory line, this is a loose collection of narrative images weaving in and out of each other depicting murder, mayhem, ritual sacrifice, sexual violation, body horror and other gruesome but deliberately static images.  Espey manages the neat trick of flipping between standard panel-to-panel transitions and still drawings that look more like something from a cave painting or stained glass painting.  The most disturbing images include a Santa Claus murdering everyone (including pets) in a home after his discovery of a gun as a gift he’s delivering warps his mind, as well as an unflinching ritual sacrifice and violation of a young woman manacled to a tree stump.

These are images straight from Espey’s id, reminiscent of the sort of thing that Rory Hayes used to do–only with a steady hand and clear mind behind them.  His drawings, horrific as they appear, are absolutely exquisitely rendered.  Espey’s comics are nightmarishly absurd, drawn with a clarity that forces the reader to confront beauty and ugliness in the same panel.  They are genuinely disturbing and thought-provoking in a way that doesn’t feel affected or calculating.  Espey is not trying to shock, but rather seeks to get these images out of his head and onto paper.

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One Response to “Outposts: Death Deals and Quiet Human Contact

  1. […] books are back in stock, thankfully. You can read Rob Clough’s review of Death Deals here. Or you can just get the book already. Or even better, do […]