Thee Comic Column #51: Fialkov & Infurnari’s The Bunker

 

image courtesy of thisisinfamous.com

Joshua Hale Fialkov and Joe Infurnari recently launched a new web comic. The Bunker is only available online, so this was a new experience for me. I won’t go so far as to say I’ve ever been against digital books or comics, they’re just not my preference. Would I prefer to read The Bunker – which is a wonderfully-crafted and extremely exciting addition to my monthly addiction – in paper form? Maybe. However I fully recognize that this is my personal preference and in no way would I ever impose my preferences on creators doing what they need to do in order to get their completely independent book out to those who want to read it.

And just me, you want to read this.

The Bunker begins with five friends digging in Angeles National Forest. It’s the last day they will spend together, the eve of the adult world settling over them and sending them on their way to University or the like. The plan is to commemorate the day so that, as one character puts it, “…so we can Big Chill it in like twenty years.”

There’s a lot of dissension concerning the time capsule idea. It’s young adults on the cusp of entering the corridor of hard work and dreams that will transform them into adults and their nerves are bringing out their in-jokes, frustrations and petty grievances, especially as directed at one member of the group in particular, Grady Potts, the impetus behind the time capsule.  I suppose this is to be expected. Who walks into the future without kicking parts of the past out of their way? We all do it – many of us regret some of those careless blows later on in life, but it’s part of the skin-shedding procedure that everyone goes through in the Western World. It’s how we distance ourselves from the pain of leaving the past, by literally distancing ourselves from those who make up our past. What is not expected however, is that while digging the five friends unearth an enormous metal bunker that has their names on it.

What?

image courtesy of thisisinfamous.com

I know, right? Wait, it gets more insane.

Inside the bunker, which Infurnari beautifully crafts as a cold and ominous military-style ‘Between Space’ that is seriously enhanced by both the black and white and the digital medium, are letters. Letters for each of the group. Letters written by their future selves.

Yep.

But wait, I’ve misspoken here. The Bunker doesn’t have all five names on it, and not everyone gets a letter. One member of the group’s future is… missing.

So begins the first issue of The Bunker. There’s a little Richard Kelly, a little early Fincher and dab of that Spielbergian flavor that informed the earliest works of a certain director whose initials are M.K.S. I don’t have the kind of raging hatred for this particular director that many do, but I am also so weary of anything past his first three movies that I’d feel a little guilty mentioning him by name in reference to a story like The Bunker, a story where two issues in the twists and turns already feel so natural that they would only be undermined by anyone reading this thinking I’m making any kind of direct comparison – to any of the above-mentioned artists really. Still, for better or worse analogues always help give folks an idea of tone and it’s not happenstance that I’m using all cinematic analogues here. The Bunker feels way the heck more like a film than it does a comic. Maybe that’s exacerbated by the fact that this is my first experience with the digital form of comics, maybe it’s just the result of these two wonderful creator’s styles coming together in the way that they do.

Joshua Hale Fialkov and Joe Infurnari are both new to me. In the wake of The Bunker I picked up the first few issues of Fialkov’s Hunger mini for Marvel and I’m really digging that as well. Infurnari’s other work is still outside the sphere of what I’m reading at the moment, but if you go to the man’s website here you’ll get a feel for the work he’s done/doing. I definitely dig what I’m seeing in The Bunker – there’s something that reminds me of early Bendis, i.e. Jinx and Goldfish. There’s also something that reminds me of Sunday newspaper strips. And in a very weird and wonderful way it’s that combination that has helped accentuate the overall creepy tone of the book.

Now – Issue two recently dropped and it’s a doozy. I don’t want to go into too many more plot points of the book, but let me just say that where the first issue concerned the future of the world and how it relates to one particular individual in the group, issue two begins to move through the group and illuminate some of the other friends’ letters. It also begins to move the story in some unexpected directions and this both surprised and delighted me, really making me hunger for the next issue even more than issue one did. That said, I think Mr. Fialkov and Mr. Infurnari have something massively fun and extremely cool on their hands and I am completely and totally on board for the long haul.

……………………..

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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