Punks: The Comic #1
by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Kody Chamberlain
Punks: The Comic is not a new idea. In fact, this is a property that Fialkov originally made ten years ago. With Punks: The Comics #1, the series returns with Fialkov writing and Kody Chamberlain on art. From the very start, the book is crude, in both its visual style and writing. Looking like clippings that you may find glued together in someone’s notebook, the story of Punks is that of four slacker roommates, including Abraham Lincoln. In the first issue, readers are presented with several shorts and an interlude including some fun mini games.
One this is certain about Punks: The Comic. This is not a book for everyone. Fortunately, Fialkov and Chamberlain have no misgivings about this. From the first moments of this book it is clear that the creators know what they want this book to be and have no trouble is embracing that completely. Abe Lincoln, Dog, Fist and Skull are not the nicest of characters at the best, and fall pretty far short of that throughout this first issue. As readers get to know their cast, it is clear that Dog is the group’s punching bag, both figuratively and literally. Only looking to inform his friends that he met a girl that he wants to bring over, the result of the conversation finds dog thrown through the ceiling, an action that appears to happen quite frequently. Over the course of the shorts in this first issue, the story is vulgar, insensitive and rough in any way it can be. One of the best single words that can be used to describe Fialkov and Chamberlain’s Punks is absurd.
The book works almost like a classic magazine comic more than what comic book singles have become today. Not only is there a series of stories within a single issue, but there is also a page of cut outs meant to be used in a game, and a page of crosswords and other puzzles. All are created with the same sincerity and tone as the stories in the issue. Chamberlains cut-and-paste style artwork matches Fialkov’s writing impressively well. This is the kind of book that has no interest in the formal construction of a comic book, classic approach to paneling, character rendering and development. But, despite the visual aesthetic that amounts to someone’s pairings of a suit and a dog’s face, Chamberlain isn’t making these decisions without any sense of his choices. No matter how absurd the story or images appear to be, Fialkov and Chamberlain are not careless in their design and that makes Punks a success.
It is important to recognize that, as much as this book is informal and unapologetic, that it is not without an intelligent approach. Sure, anyone can cut together images and throw crude dialogue on the page and call it a rebellious publication. Likely though, it isn’t going to work as well as this does. Punks: The Comic is a great return to the book’s origins and, for new readers, an introduction into a hilarious and rude world.