Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review - American Nature Presents

"It's payday, sucker!"

As far as comic anthologies go, they can range in tone from dramatic to irreverent. Ones that skew toward the latter are generally entertaining because of how ridiculous they can get and American Nature Presents by Bogus Books is no exception. The anthology features "Mediokrates!" by Ralph Niese, "R.A.D. in Time" by Austin Tinius, Robert Salinas and Antonio Brandao, "Beef Jams and Jr. Duck and Run" by Marc Koprinarov, David Landsberger, Greg Petre and Fake Petre, "Vigilante Girl Gang!" by Benjamin Marra and "The Walking Light: A Witch Gauntlet Tale" by Ze Burnay.

In "Mediokrates," Maria Lionaz and the Young Time Traveler find themselves in Greece, where a giant floating statue head of Mediokrates is broken. The duo decide to help the statue, as it's not performing as expected, only when they "help" they seemingly make things worse. At least, more militaristic. "R.A.D. in Time" features Albert Einstein seeking to be "the Albert Einstein," offering fire and the wheel to caveman long before they discovered it themselves. As time traveling is wont to do, things don't work out as Einstein envisioned and the cavemen become variations of Bill and Ted. "Beef Jams and Jr. Duck and Run" is a story of a pick-up basketball game, if that game featured centaurs, prospectors, truckers and a hamburger-headed coach. "Vigilante Girl Gang" boasts woman on the streets taking justice into their own hands, while "The Walking Light: A Witch Gauntlet Tale" features a strange, radioactive looking being walking through the forest and eating ghosts.

If all the aforementioned descriptions sound ridiculous, quite frankly it's because they are. American Nature Presents evokes much of the inanity that made MAD Magazine so popular with so many readers, working in potentially biting commentary amidst seemingly ridiculous scenarios. American Nature started as a backup comic in Hoax Hunters series and now that it's fleshed out readers can really see some depravity. "Mediokrates!" boasts a somewhat scathing indictment of a nation's obsession with firearms, while "R.A.D. in Time" shows what happens when you attempt to alter time to your advantage (with a lot of gruesome consequences along the way). "Beef Jam" is probably the crassest of the stories and is very reminiscent of God Hates Astronauts in its tone and style. "Vigilante Girl Gang" is all about quick-hitting violence, while "The Walking Light: A Witch Gauntlet Tale" looks like the episode of The Simpsons when a radioactive George Burns was "terrorizing" the forests of Springfield.

Artistically, the look of the anthology is just as outlandish as the stories themselves. There's clearly a difference in styles from story to story, but not so much a difference that the book feels to disjointed. Niese's work in Mediokrates! is more cartoony in appearance. Brandao's work is a bit more violent and mature, but depicts fairly intricate linework and a pulpy appearance. Landsberger has a lot of fun in "Beef Jams," anthropomorphizing a slew of different animals for the effect of making them effective basketball players. Marra's style in "Vigilante Girl Gang!" is saturated with color, living primarily in sharp reds and yellows. And Burney's work is detached and simple.

American Nature Presents is pretty far out there and that's a good thing. The compilation of stories has a ton of different characters and spans a wide variety of settings, each of which is seemingly more outlandish than the next. The dialogue throughout is cracking and entertaining, even if there are a few spots where the vulgarities will likely turn some people off. The artwork fits the stories appropriately, effectively showcasing the sheer ludicrous scenarios showcased in the book. American Nature Presents is a lot of fun and will entertain just about anyone; especially those who were big fans of MAD Magazine.

American Nature Presents is available now.


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