Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Prison Pit

So it has been some time has it not? But here I go writing about them comics again...this time about Johnny Ryan's recent Prison Pit volume 1. I know next to nothing about Ryan's body of work, but this comic is at once compelling, disgusting, hilarious and strange. I think Ryan is calling forth some classic manga influence here, the opening page definitely reminds me of classic Osamu Tezuka, and the leisurely pace and quiet stretches definitely remind me of the manga works of a Tezuka or Ishinomori, or even Go Nagai. The extreme violence and sheer grossness definitely reminds me of Go Nagai in fact. There might be some more direct horror manga influences here, but I know next to nothing about horror manga so I won't comment.

The violence here is extreme, but I wouldn't call it gratuitous. The violence is necessary, this book IS the violence. Prison Pit is 120 pages of muscled monster men killing one another, and puking, and bleeding, and ejaculating. To go back to manga, and maybe more so anime, this book reminds me of what everyone THOUGHT anime was back in the 90's. Everyone thought all anime was back then was people killing one another in the most terrible ways possible. This comic is indeed that...but the way it is paced, drawn, inked....just by virtue of what Ryan has done here, at least to this reader makes it infinitely appealing. The ink work is deft, the scratchy clouds and looming dark mountains are just as interesting to look at as our underwear clad monster man ripping a prison guard's body in half and eating his organs.

I think the real star here is Ryan's storytelling...not that the "story" is anything too complicated. The way he paces each chapter, how he moves from scene to scene, is nothing short of compelling. I think this artful execution is what keeps me coming back to this volume, not being a fan of "gross out" type humor. (though I concede a love for ultra violent comics) This is definitely worth checking out. My SOLE qualm is that the binding on my copy seems a little iffy, but I treat my books with respect. Prison Pit is published by Fantagraphics, and is $12.99. Buy it.