Not to place a ding on the golden armor that is Whatchareading.com’s indie comic “street cred”, I have to say that I haven’t always given independent titles a fair shake. You can place the blame on my uncultured, juvenile, and Image Comics dominated upbringing (complete with “heroes” with guns bigger than their unnecessary body counts). My appreciation for the works of Art Spiegelman’s “Maus, ”Terry Moore’s “Strangers in Paradise”, and Gilbert and Jaime Fernandez’s “Love and Rockets”, to name a few, came well after the more traditional works such as John Byrne’s run on “Alpha Flight” and the “Fantastic Four”. Thankfully, my role as comic reviewer for this site has exposed me to those creators that “fly under the radar” of mainstream publishing and whose works that Comixology has graciously provided a venue for.
This week, I’m compelled to sing the praises of one such title… “Werewolf of NYC”. From the wonderfully skewed mind of artist-creator Edwin Vasquez, the story takes place in 1984 and revolves around Hell’s Kitchen resident Albert Shaw who struggles living with his erotic urges and the murderous animal it gives birth to within him. We follow his travels as he encounters the New York nightlife (in the form of the era’s slums and vulgar prostitutes).
The only drawback is that it ends too soon. The dialogue and scenarios are spare and I feel the concept (surely a promising one) would have benefited greatly from a little more written embellishment. The art, on the other hand, doesn’t make that mistake. Despite my tastes regarding independent creators, I am familiar with the early works of Robert Crumb and Ralph Bakshi (of “Fritz the Cat” fame). These are the two legends that come to mind when I look at Vasquez’s renderings and the artist has the courage not to be confined to the restrictive rules regarding traditional comic panels. The art retains a playful and anarchistic spirit as a result of it. The double spread page of Shaw’s “transformation” is just vibrant and bursting with manic energy. Vasquez’s style harkens back to the days when comic books were considered “dangerous”. No rules. No boundaries. Expression for expression’s sake. All Vasquez’s needs is a bigger canvas and a more complex storyline to branch out in.
Hopefully, there will be more of Mr. Vasquez’s brilliant work in the months to come. We need more “dangerous” people like him in comics these days. And, thankfully, his work doesn’t have to rely on a big gun and a bigger body count. This is the type of “image” comic that truly celebrates the image.
4 out of 5!
Werewolf of NYC #1
Written by Edwin Vazquez
Art by Edwin Vazquez
Release date: 10/30