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Destroy All Comics - GGR and a Ritual Book Report

Check out the latest page of Golden Gate Riot, okay? It takes place in front of a vintage clothing store named Channel One. Channel One was actually a real place at 736 The Alameda, San Jose, California, and it really did sell vintage clothes and records. They went out of business years ago, but they also had live shows there when I was a teenager.

Here's a list of bands I saw at Channel One:

The Timeouts
Tsunami Bomb
Shut Up Donny
Creeper Lagoon
The Contrail
Ten in the Swear Jar (some of the members went on to form Xiu Xiu)
The Aislers Set
Bright Eyes (at the time, it was just one crazy dude yelling at his acoustic guitar)
Mates Of State
Concerning Eye
Audio Crush
Spike And Princess

Channel One wasn't as huge a part of my life as The Fishbowl was, but I went to some pretty memorable shows there. Shout outs to Tia, Stephanie, Christine, Karen, and other rad people.

I also want to talk today about a sweet comic I got! Die-anne and I met Malachi Ward and his frequent collaborator Matt Sheean at Alternative Press Expo 2012. They are cool dudes! I read Malachi's book Ritual Issue One: Real Life.

Apparently the series title is Ritual and the title of the particular story in this book Real Life. It wasn't really clear from the cover, but I figured it out by going to Malachi's website where I saw there's a Ritual Issue Two. The name Real Life is pretty apt. It sets you up for a slice of life story, which is this is. Kind of. If anything, I would say it reminds me of Philip K. Dick's realistic (non-sci-fi) books like Voices from the Street and Humpty Dumpty in Oakland.

The story begins with a freakish dream. Our protagonist dreams her boyfriend or husband? has nasty cockroaches crawling under his skin. They wake up and go about their normal day to day business. The protagonist is a music teacher, so she teaches kids piano. She comes home, and plays the mandolin for her scowling partner while he frantically writes to meet a deadline. Then the power goes out and he loses two hours of work and gets pissed off. Don't you hate it when that happens? They light some candles and she plays mandolin some more.

Then they go visit their neighbor, a woman named Alma. They chitchat for a bit about music and how brutal chimps are, and then there's a stunningly bright light from the sky. Lightning? There's no storm! A generator? An explosion? We never find out for sure. Our main character tells the story of her weird bug dream while her partner goes inside to scowl some more. Later she comes in to go to bed and he is still scowling. She goes to bed.

That's when shit gets weird. She wakes up (or does she?) to music. Someone is playing piano. She gets up and see that Alma is playing a song she could never get right. Alma and her man both have lumps on the skin. Are there bugs underneath? Then Alma and her partner make out. Our hero meekly asks them to stop. When Alma starts pulling his pants off, our hero has had enough and she pulls her off her man. Then her man punches her! She runs away.

She wanders along the city streets until she finds some take out Chinese food on the ground near a dumpster. She picks it up and starts eating this gross abandoned food. Then she flips out and
starts beating the crap out of the dumpster.

Then her lover and Alma come walking down the street looking for her. He tries to hit her with a flashlight (maybe?) and she punches him in the gut and runs. They stalk her for a while. She hides in a laundry room and overhears them arguing. She slips out and finds Alma's bloody corpse on the ground!

I don't want to ruin the ending, but it just gets crazier from there on. Much like Philip K. Dick's stories, it begins in a mundane place and ends in some kind of psychotic episode or fugue state. Is what our hero is perceiving real? Is she cracking up? I thought at first we were meant to think it was a dream, but it went on for like half the length of the comic, and she does NOT wake up at the end.

It does a really good job of setting your expectations with a normal everyday life and then shatters them with creeping weirdness and sudden violence, though it is never graphic. The art style is clean and spare. The characters almost look like icons, stripped down to convey only the necessary visual information. The lighting is also really good at conveying the mood.

I also really like the conceit of the power outage. It's an excellent reason for ratcheting up the tension and also gives Ward some cool shadows to draw.

Based on the cover and art style, I didn't really think this comic would be my cup of tea. I was more drawn to Ward's other book with Sheean, Expansion, because I like sci-fi and the art style is more detailed, but it turns out that I really enjoyed it. While it was a fun surprise for me, I wonder if it wouldn't be more appealing to people like me if there was something on the cover or in the first few pages to indicate that the comic has a Phildickian or perhaps David Lynchian approach. It's a pretty cool comic.

You should check it out.

Posted 14 November, 2012 - 15:40 by Destroy All Pod...
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