If you are alive, and interested in things that are not boring, you most likely will have read a couple of books – The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band Who Burned a Million Pounds – by top banana John Higgs, and Them: Adventures with Extremists by quiet genius/humorist Jon Ronson. However, if you are alive and you’ve not yet read either (or both) of these two books there’s a chap called Steven Horry who can help you out.
Horry has just hit the Kickstarter target for printing and distributing a six issue comic book mini series called Lizard Men, and he’s now moved the stretch goals to make life even more interesting for supporters of art, humor, and entirely plausible conspiracy theories involving lizards, rock ‘n’ roll, and politics.
Lizard Men is a smartly stylized tale of an English rock star, Dylan Zamani, who becomes Prime Minister of Great Britain. Like his work on Chalk, Horry does a good job of fleshing out a person with character, as well as characteristics. There is life in Dylan – his upbringing, and formative years are shared with a strip that describes his life from birth to mega-stardom, and narcotic abuse. Panel after panel of political context and musical evolution sets a depth of vision that immediately snares the reader. This sequence happens on the opening page, and it’s a thing of beauty. Horry has the sense to frame his tale with familiar totems – clichés that are truisms, and an easy access to the man at the center of the universe.
If the idea of an egotist, unrooted in reality, gaining political power sounds utterly unbelievable then Lizard Men is not for you. Because shit gets weird, pretty quick. This hyper-real world soon takes a turn into the surreal, as dubious men in white look over proceedings, and a black vortex opens in the sky over the English countryside.
Immediately Lizard Men is a compelling read. There’s a sense of urgency, but there’s also a measured progress to the piece. Future issues have plenty to build on, and this first segment feels like the construction of a world that could continue beyond the six scripts that Horry has already completed.
Aside from the storyline there are moments of genuine visual beauty. Another sequence of panels – again out in the English countryside – have incredible, and non-obvious color work that freezes the eye and makes the mind race. It’s good stuff. It’s really good stuff.
For this new jaunt into the sublimely ridiculous, Horry is joined by a host of well-pedigreed co-conspirators; Catia Fantini who also works on Chalk, and produced work for Advent Comics, ECV Press, and Red King Press. Chiara Bonacini, who has worked for Mondadori, and in the indie Italian label Damage Comix. Lettering comes from Ken Reynolds, who comic lovers will know from his role on a team that completed the 750 page epic, The Explorer’s Guild, and for his writing of Cognition. Editing this ensemble is Mira Manga – who keeps the pace of plot, and details of character sharp, evocative and on the rails.
It’s the sense of community, not least reflected in the incredible Kickstarter response to the project, that is evidenced in a work like Lizard Men. Horry and his Comichaus mates continue to expand their empire with such a smart an unforced approach that they’ll soon be responsible for a universe that will continue to expand beyond their natural lives.
Are there darker interpretations of Lizard Men? Absolutely there are. This is grown-up stuff, and for all its’ playfulness there are bleaker elements, draped in humor, which we can sense were borne from a kind of anger. When those who are pure of heart are met with the grubby realities that have recently unfolded in global politics, there is bound to be frustration. It would make sense then, that those who are capable of offering alternate realities would start to build them now – real or imagined. And it’s for those reasons that Horry’s highly implausible, yet not-entirely-unbelievable script, is so rewarding.
For Lizard Men we award Comichaus 23 minutes of strobe around the Discordian disco room of Number 10.
HURRY – GET INVOLVED – LIZARD MEN