Thee Comic Column #139: Airboy!

airboy1Airboy. Holy crap – AIRBOY! This book is completely batshit crazy; a fearless piece of meta-fiction wrapped in a superhero shell (or is that the other way around?) and I am loving it! Highest possible recommendation. If you are over 18 years of age. Well, maybe even if you’re not but are a mature reader. But if that’s you and you snatch this book off your local comic book store shelves and any authority figures in your life catch you with it and demand and explanation, well, I didn’t tell you about. I only told you how good it was…

Previously: Several months ago, in the back of one of the Image books I read monthly there was a four or five page preview of this book. I perused it at the time but confess to not “getting it”, primarily because I have been seriously trying to stop adding titles – to no success – and thus often I do treat these kind of previews with a sort of vacant feigning of interest, just to try and not get involved.

Stupid, right? Well, yeah, but that’s what friends are for, to help us realize when we are being stupid. Flash forward to two Monday’s ago. While filming issue #24 of Drinking with Comics my esteemed co-host, one Mr. Mike Wellman brought up that he’d been reading  and quite enjoying James Robinson and Greg Hinkle’s Airboy. I didn’t make the connection at first, having completely forgotten the aforementioned preview. However, Mike’s fervor and the fact that I had just started reading (finally) James Robinson’s highly regarded classic Starman sparked my interest.

As soon as Mike handed me the first issue of Airboy to leaf through I recognized Greg Hinkle’s outstandingly original art and I became extremely interested. The preview finally made sense to me, with the drug-fueled, heavy meta plot centered around Robinson’s reluctance and subsequent difficulty in tackling a reboot of the classic, public domain Airboy character for Image comics serving as a jumping off point for what is one of the most brutally honest expressions I’ve seen since Bret Easton Ellis’s novel Lunar Park. Like Lunar Park, Airboy’s incorporation of both Robinson and Hinkle as characters creates a murky ebb and flow with reality.

How much of this madness is truth?

How much is extrapolation?

To what degree are those possible embellishments based on fact?

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The beauty of course is we don’t and will likely never know. And that’s how it should be. I don’t want to know how much of this is fact; there’s enough that I do know about Robinson from introductions and back matter pieces and interviews like the one I’ve embedded below that I get a hint of the dysfunction that drives this story and that really just makes Airboy all the better. Mysterious and savagely honest all at the same time. Confessional, therapy and apology all wrapped up in a story that, when it does get around to introducing the titular hero into the mix, becomes as a surreal a superhero story as I’ve seen in some time. And the art and writing is so harmonized in this project that you’re willing to accept that some of this stuff must have happened to these guys to inspire it. How could they not accidentally snorted heroin instead of coke? How could they not have manifested their storytelling stumbling blocks as the characters they were attempting to write about? How could they not have been transported to an alternate reality timeline where WWII is still waging and the Axis have mech robot armor?

Well, maybe things didn’t go quite that far, but then again, maybe is the beauty and salvation inherent in this book. Pick it up and see for yourself. You won’t be bored, and as crass as it can get it’s still as intellectually stimulating as any other book on the shelves at the moment.

………………..

Can’t find a comic shop? You can always use old reliable Comic Shop Locator at 1-800-COMIC-BOOK. Or you can take some of my recommendations. If you live in the greater Chicagoland area I recommend any of the wonderful four locations of Amazing Fantasy Books. In Los Angeles it’s The Comic Bug. Las Vegas it’s Alternate Reality Comics. San Francisco? Try the Isotope Comic Lounge and if you happen to venture a little further North I’d say you have to visit The Escapist Comic Book Store in Berkley (with the wonderful Dark Carnival Books next door and owned by the same folks). Read on!!!

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

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