When we think of Kickstarter campaigns, we often think of it being used to get new creators a way to focus on their work and to gauge interest. I had never really thought about it being used by established creators in a way to get a project that is near and dear to them guaranteed to be published, and entirely on their terms. And yet, that is what writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray did with their successful campaign of their unique title called Sex and Violence.
I loved the work that Palmiotti and Gray did on Jonah Hex in the old DCU, and even much of what they are doing in the New 52 – in fact, I am wildly excited at them taking over Batwing (they are what have kept me from dropping the title) and their Ame-Comi Girls title as well. They also worked on such titles with more violent themes for Marvel – anyone heard of the little known characters the Punisher and Ghost Rider? Suffice to say, these gents know their stories and with a book that has the word “violence” in the title… you can rest assured you are in good hands. But, as the title suggests, this is not a book for kids. This is one that will sit on the top shelf, away from prying hands of nieces and nephews wanting to look at the comics in my office.
After reading the digital version (the print one should reach my grubby little hands in the next number of weeks) I can honestly say that I am quite happy. Palmiotti and Gray team up with 2 sets of artists and deliver two stories in this book. Both stories are uniquely different, but they are told amazingly well. They don’t really compare to one another either, which is quite nice. They both cross over into the arenas mentioned in the title, with one story being more focused on the violence and the other focusing on sex, but the stories do not cross over with one another. They are truly unique, encapsulated stories.
The first story, “Pornland, Oregon”, tells the tale of a man avenging his family. His family has been wronged and he goes to any lengths to find those responsible. When reading the story, I had visions of the same character that Liam Neeson played in Taken in the role of the main character. It was that kind of feeling and that kind of story. It touched on the darker side of humanity and what lengths people will go to in order to avenge their loved ones, but also how they can themselves find a way to redemption. It shows what we are capable of when we are pushed to the point where we feel that we have nothing left to lose. The fact that it can evoke that feeling in its reader says a lot about the story – it resonates with us. Many of the super-hero related titles give a reader a single point of reference as someone we can relate to. With this story, there is more of a focus on who we are and it shows how far we can fall when pushed to the limit but still manage to find a way out.
The visuals in this first story are supplied by Jimmy Broxton, who worked overtime to take care of the artwork, the coloring, and the lettering. The art is very dark, which works with the darkness and depth of the story. It’s haunting, actually. The character does get a redemption point, and the art and coloring shows the possibility there – a way to escape from the hole in which he is following. Broxton did an amazing job in capturing the feel of this story – it’s very noir, and reminds me of the style of Fatale from Brubaker and Phillips, or even the most recent incarnation of Moon Knight from Bendis and Maleev. It’s a mystery, it’s crime and criminals, and it’s about humanity. I think Palmiotti and Gray picked the absolute best artist for this story that they could have.
The second story, “Girl in a Storm”, is a different beast entirely. This story focuses more on the sex aspect than the violence, although it is not devoid of the latter. It’s also a story about humanity, but how our loneliness at times can truly cause us to search out our desires in ways that are not always considered “right”. And, to make the point that even the best among us are fallible, the main character is a police officer who is on her own road to discovering who she truly is. Even though this is a story about adults, I see it as a strong “coming of age” style of a story. The main character doubts herself, doubts who she is and what she is doing… And then all it takes is that one event to give her focus and to bring clarity. It’s something that many of have struggled with at one time or another, and it’s told quite well in this story.
The art for this story is penciled and inked by Juan Santacruz, with colors by Challenging Studios and lettering by Bill Tortolini. The story here is much brighter in nature, and I think that Santacruz has done a fantastic job in making it stand out. The colors provided help as well – this is not a dark story as the previous one was, but something that needed some brightness as it is about self-discovery. This is a story that is very much about facial expressions and body language – there is not a lot of dialogue but instead a lot of monologue. The two work well here and truly complement one another. The characters do seem to come to life here and that’s quite impressive, giving the tone of the story.
The cover for the book was not done by either of the interior artists, but instead by Amanda Connor. And it’s gorgeous. It suits the book perfectly, covering both the sex and the violence aspect of the book in a single standalone picture. The only downside… Well, I couldn’t show you the unaltered cover due to our site’s audience, but looking at the image above you get the picture. Connor has done a great job with this cover in setting the tone as soon as you open the book.
I am extremely glad I backed this Kickstarter campaign. Had I not, I would not have been able to pick up this book and that would have been a shame. It may end up being that this book is only available for its backers and will never be available in any other format and for those that missed out… You are REALLY missing out. Perhaps you’ll be able to find a copy for private sale somewhere… It just simply won’t be mine.