The Smell of Starving Boys by Frederik Peeters and Loo Hui Phang. SelfMadeHero, 2017. 9781910593400. 109pp.
Post Civil War, a dapper British photographer and a gruff geologist survey wild parts of Texas. The photographer fled scandal back in New York, the geologist seems as interested in the locations of native villages as in rocks, and the young “boy” assisting them has a secret of his own. There’s a skeletal man on their trail, plus a very amused native who’s always nearby, watching, and more than a little sex.
The tale ends, as westerns must, with some violence, but before that it’s filled with beautiful images and colors. Peeters’ graphic novels always seems to have surreal images, and this is no exception — from an unexpected fish to a copse of trees that reminds me of his aama series, but it’s Phang who makes it all sing. From her horses and landscapes to the way she draws and colors shadows, particularly around campfires at night, every page of this book is beautiful.
Copperhead Volume 2 by Jay Faerber, Scott Godlewski, Ron Riley, and Thomas Mauer. Image, 2015. 9781632154712.
Most of my favorite low budget science fiction movies take place in a desert — it’s a cheap place to film. And a lot of them are just westerns with better set dressing and costumes. In the first volume of Copperhead single mom Clara Bronson became Sheriff of a small mining town on a nowhere planet. In the second volume, her deputy, a huge furry alien nicknamed Boo, urges her to take the night off after a futile high speed chase through the desert. She heads to a bar where she tries to hook up with the local schoolteacher while, at home, her son slips past his babysitter to visit his friend, the artificial soldier Ishmael (who figured in the first book). Local power brokers want Boo’s help getting rid of the Sheriff. A gang of thugs are on their way to Copperhead to free their leader’s little brother from jail. Violence breaks out in short order, and soon there’s a race across the dry sand to The Bastion, “safe haven for outlaws everywhere.” (It looks more like the kluged together island in Waterworld than Jabba’s palace.)
Why I liked it: the alien melting pot, a single mom taking on small town criminals and crime lords, and oversized Boo, who is clearly on his way to becoming Sheriff Bronson’s Chewbacca. It pushes all the right buttons in my B-movie loving heart.