Taking a break from the Halloween mixtape tonight to do a Halloween funnybook review. But, man… We got all kinds of trouble with the Countdown. First, I fell asleep trying to pick a song for last night’s entry (Never get comfy in front of the YouTubes when you’re tired, man. Don’t work out good). Which would normally call for a two-fer. But as I said… I’m doing a funnybook review tonight instead. So… DISCOMBOBULATION!
But don’t worry. I’ve found a solution. I’ll review a funnybook, then give you a Halloweenie song that matches its tone. How ’bout dem apples?
Oh! And before I go in here… I left all the artwork below at pretty huge size. The wide shots should fill your screen. So click to embiggen them sumbitches. Appreciate some art for once in your candy-corn-eatin’ life!
The Goon: Theatre Bizarre
by Eric Powell and John Dunivant
Eric Powell recently ended the Goon on-going series on what I thought was a shockingly upbeat note.
So when I heard that this “Theatre Bizarre” one-shot was coming out, just a week or two later, I was a bit confused. Of course, I was expecting the series to end in such a way that no further stories could actually feature the Goon himself. So when I got that surprisingly upbeat ending…
…this one-shot made more sense. And it’s exactly the sort of thing The Goon, as a series, needed after the increasingly oppressive tone of its previous eight issues: a chance to blow off some steam with a goofy one-off full of funny jokes and cool atmosphere. It’s the series’ real final issue (inside, it’s sneakily identified as Goon #54), and a nice transition to where it’s going next. That’ll be a new series called The Lords of Misery, evidently, but before we land on those cheery shores, we have a bit of this:
Evil clowns! Busty dames! A circus of the damned! Yee and Ha.
The Theatre Bizarre, I learned after a quick search of the interwebs, is a real thing, an annual event put on in Detroit. It’s a massive gala Halloween masquerade ball, a fine evening out for a bunch of rich weirdos.
Okay, that’s… not actually a picture from Theatre Bizarre. But you can see actual photos from the actual event if you click on the link cleverly hidden within these here very words.
Anyway. Goon and Frankie don’t go to Detroit. Instead, they go to a fictional Theatre Bizarre, an ethereal, mysterious ghost circus that appears before them in the fog on Halloween night. It’s your typical circus of the damned sort of place, populated with dead clowns, horribly scarred rapscallions, and assorted other cheerful types.
There’s the barest bones of a plot, but it’s perfunctory enough that I’m not going to bother discussing it. And that’s okay, because the plot’s just an excuse for what this issue’s really all about: making jokes and drawing pretty pictures of some awesomely macabre shit. I don’t want to ruin the jokes for you. Even though I did laugh out loud at least three times. While reading it in public. Hmm. Okay, okay. Let’s just say that much merriment is made over Frankie’s love of women’s behinds, and leave it at that.
The pretty pictures, on the other hand, I’m less worried about spoiling. Especially since there’s so very many of them. Powell turns in all his usual ugly-gorgeous cartooning, including this shot that somehow manages to combine the aesthetics of Jack Kirby and Bill Watterson…
…and excelling the most, as ever, when drawing the most bizarre stuff:
But I was especially taken with the pages done by Theatre Bizarre creator John Dunivant. Those are mostly hellish evil circus landscape sorts of things, including a couple of breath-taking two-page spreads. One of which I have attempted to patch together for the betterment of your eye parts:
Pretty sweet Halloween eye candy, huh? It’s even better when you embiggen it. But also, check out this detail I sliced out of the full-size scan:
SO MANY TINY FIGURES. So many tiny figures you CAN”T EVEN REALLY SEE at printed size. There’s some cool stuff in there, too. I mean, sure, the guys lined up on the left are all the same. But on the right? All kinds of different figures, and I didn’t even really notice them until I scanned the page in! They’re all super-cool and Halloweenie, too.
And, since that’s likely to be the most intelligent thing I have left to say about this comic at this point, I guess I should wrap this thing up.
Now, then! About that appropriate piece of music I mentioned at the top. Well, since we’re talking about evil circuses, I figured who better than the kings of evil circus music, Circus Contraption?