The Auteur: Sister Bambi 5 (December 2015)

The Auteur: Sister Bambi #5

I don’t know. I’m not sure what other response one should have to Sister Bambi’s conclusion, just because—well, first off, it has almost nothing to do with this series and instead serves to close off the entire Auteur franchise (unfortunately)—but because the comic is so strange.

Spears splits the (double-sized) issue between a script for what seems more like the final issue of Sister Bambi and regular comic story. The regular comic story has Rex battling it out with what seems to be his creator (only Spears only writes the book, so maybe it’s supposed to be Callahan). Is it a reflection on the state of the creator and the creation? Of the artist’s place in the twenty-first century? Or is it just Spears and Callahan being gross?

The comic works, to some degree, on all three levels, but never all the way. Even though Callahan puts a lot of work into the art, the story isn’t particularly engaging. Especially not when juxtaposed against Spears’s other script, which one can easily imagine visualized and it would be rather funny.

So, in the end, Sister Bambi’s conclusion seems to be a mercy killing, which is odd, because if readers made it through ten issues… they might want something better for Rex and company.

Spears and Callahan achieve irreverent and absurd; hopefully they weren’t going profound and sublime. Either way, it’s one heck of a way to end a comic.

CREDITS

None of Us Get Out of Here Alive; writer and letterer, Rick Spears; artist, James Callahan; colorist, Luigi Anderson; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

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The Auteur: Sister Bambi 4 (September 2015)

The Auteur: Sister Bambi #4

I enjoyed this issue of Sister Bambi. The soft cliffhanger, especially considering the comic opens with a comedic bookend, is annoying but in a pointless kind of way. Spears is still chasing something with the series, even though once you bring in zombie triceratops, you’ve sort of given up.

Spears is no longer bothering trying to find absurd humor in Hollywood movie-making. He’s barely trying to find humor. He’s certainly not sensationalizing the reader anymore. Instead, he’s just running amuck on Bambi, which is fine, because it gives Callahan stuff to do. Unfortunately, even though the book’s best as an example of Callahan’s skill and inventiveness, the script forces Callahan to be too inventive. Spears doesn’t give him enough room for all the lunacy. So there are these battles between the serial killer guy and the zombie lions, tigers, and bears, and Callahan has to do them in these little panels. They’re great little panels. But I’ll bet he’d have done better not illustrating them on postage stamp scale.

Let’s see if I missed anything–some lame one-liners, lots of crazy action, a too obvious subplot–nope, I got it all. Sister Bambi has gotten to the point I don’t remember much between issues, which is good; I’d also remember when the series was a lot better.

CREDITS

Live in the Moment; writer and letterer, Rick Spears; artist, James Callahan; colorist, Luigi Anderson; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

The Auteur: Sister Bambi 3 (July 2015)

The Auteur: Sister Bambi #3

Well.

Well.

There’s some good stuff in this issue. Rex pleading with Coconut to understand his position–he had to take the financing from the Nazis in order to get his picture made–all while the serial killer guy watches and comments on his failures. As serial killer guy eats a shark raw. Or something like a shark.

But Spears’s big reveal for the second half of the issue–when Rex tries to wrestle back creative control–is weak. Spears goes for a zeitgeist topic while commenting on going for a zeitgeist topic. At first, it seems like it’s going to be offensive. But then it just ends up being a little lame. He’s trying way too hard on it.

Callahan’s got some good art but his pacing is all off. The first third is too condescended, the rest isn’t condescended enough.

It’s closer to flopping than it should be.

CREDITS

Shock-umentary; writer and letterer, Rick Spears; artist, James Callahan; colorist, Luigi Anderson; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

The Auteur: Sister Bambi 2 (June 2015)

The Auteur: Sister Bambi #2

Spears seems a lot more concerned with making this issue fun than anything else. The film crew gets to a jungle island and runs afoul of a giant gorilla, which the immortal serial killer brings to a graphic finish. It gives Callahan something to do because most of the rest of the issue is talking heads. Even when it’s the lead–whose name I still don’t remember–meeting with a dream plane script doctor, it’s talking heads.

A lot of the busy work of the issue has to do with the lead and his giving the part in his new picture to the Nazi girl, Isla, and not his girlfriend, Coconut. The Auteur needs more than lame relationship drama. It needs grandiose, absurd, awful relationship drama. It’s a tepid feature of an otherwise outlandish story.

Callahan’s noticeably light on backgrounds too….

It’s amusing, but Sister Bambi is definitely somewhat undercooked.

CREDITS

Writer’s Cock; writer and letterer, Rick Spears; artist, James Callahan; colorist, Luigi Anderson; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

The Auteur: Sister Bambi 1 (May 2015)

The Auteur: Sister Bambi #1

The Auteur is back and it’s a little different. The jokes are broader, it’s less actually offensive and more obviously offensive. Writer Rick Spears knows he’s got an audience now and he’s got some idea of what they want. Movie jokes. Lots of movie jokes. Like a Dracula’s Dog joke.

There’s still a lot of energy to the comic, regardless of how the dialogue gags work–James Callahan is a little light on details but there’s plenty of action.

The protagonist, whose name I’ve sort of forgotten (not sort of, entirely), doesn’t get identified in the issue by name. Spears is definitely writing for the returning reader.

There’s nothing exactly wrong with Sister Bambi, it’s just a lot more conventional. And not even in the conventions The Auteur made for itself last time. It’s hard to get excited about it; inventive, moderately effective movie jokes can only go so far.

CREDITS

Independent Financing; writer and letterer, Rick Spears; artist, James Callahan; colorist, Luigi Anderson; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

The Auteur 5 (July 2014)

The Auteur #5

I don’t know why Spears can get away with the end of The Auteur. I don’t want to think about it too hard either, just because the last issue of this arc (or the series, it’s unclear) is so entertaining and sincerely presented.

Some of the success is because Callahan’s art is so good. He doesn’t even have particularly fantastic subjects to illustrate; the biggest set piece is a gross out scene with a drug’s side effects being harmless bleeding from the skin. It’s a really funny scene. Not laugh out loud, but funny.

Spears’s sincerity in the issue is the craziest part. Not the gross out stuff, not the one liners. At first, his mention of the protagonist’s love of film seemed like a last minute addition, but Spears really just goes with it. Every chance he can to commit to insane earnestness, he does.

It’s a great finish.

CREDITS

Presidents Day, Part 5 of 5: Show Don’t Tell; writer and letterer, Rick Spears; artist, James Callahan; colorist, Luigi Anderson; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

The Auteur 4 (June 2014)

The Auteur #4

What do you do when your last issue goes off the rails? Well, if you're Rick Spears and you're writing The Auteur you do something really odd.

You pretend it never happened. Oh, there's some fallout–the producer protagonist, Rex, feels bad about the events in the previous issue, but Spears quickly moves him into a new activity. He's romancing his new leading lady–as part of the guilt, he's making romantic comedies now–only she's rejecting him so there's this hint of danger given Rex does know some serial killers.

Well, one. Who used to be a main character in the comic, but Spears has apparently dismissed.

There's a lot of irreverent humor and Spears moves the comic at a breakneck pace. Callahan is doing these tiny panels to try to get in all the information.

Is it a successful issue? Definitely. Does it mean Spears has fixed the series? No idea.

CREDITS

Presidents Day, Part 4 of 5: The Martini; writer and letterer, Rick Spears; artist, James Callahan; colorist, Luigi Anderson; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

The Auteur 3 (May 2014)

The Auteur #3

What just happened here? It’s like Spears put together two weak ideas–the very Hollywood one of how does his lunatic producer deal with an actress who won’t take off her top and then what happens if the producer’s serial killer sidekick actually kills someone. The result is a pointless, personality-free issue of The Auteur.

Maybe Spears just hit the mid-arc plateau and doesn’t know what to do. A five issue story sometimes needs to be four. Or six. This issue suggests four.

Not even the jokes are funny. Way too much time is spent on puke jokes. Even the hallucinogenic sequence is weak. Callahan doesn’t have anything to do with it, just some ghosts and a giant bunny. But they aren’t even around long enough to leave an impression.

The issue’s problems are worrisome, like maybe the comic has run out of steam.

I really hope not.

CREDITS

Presidents Day, Part 3 of 5: Unprecedented Realism!; writer and letterer, Rick Spears; artist, James Callahan; colorist, Luigi Anderson; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

The Auteur 2 (April 2014)

The Auteur #2

I'm hesitant, but I'm pretty sure The Auteur is reprehensible. Gloriously so, of course, but just completely reprehensible. Spears sends his Hollywood producer to court to defend a serial killer–so the serial killer can consult on a horror movie, natch–and comes up with this great argument about how a serial killer represents a natural predator in the human ecosystem.

Then there's this hilarious blaming of the victim and it's terrible, of course, since the victim was brutally murdered. But Spears has some great details. And he's not just making jokes at the expense of the squares, he's also got some great ones at the expense of his protagonist. The protagonist's a hilarious, awful human being, so it's fun to laugh at him too.

This issue might be the series's peak and it's a peak Spears and Callahan should be proud of surmounting.

It has a great pace too. Just great.

CREDITS

Presidents Day, Part 2 of 5: Survival of the Fittest; writer and letterer, Rick Spears; artist, James Callahan; colorist, Luigi Anderson; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

The Auteur 1 (March 2014)

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After finishing the first issue, I haven’t got a clue where writer Rick Spears is going to take The Auteur, which is a good thing. It’s an absurdly violent story set in Hollywood, full of awful studio heads, drugged up producers, obnoxious directors and gurus doling out snake venom as cure-alls.

It’s not original in that regard.

The violence is gross out but not realistic. James Callahan’s art is imaginative both with the violence and the non-violent scenes and he’s dedicated to getting the page right. But there’s something almost juvenile about it, like a kid trying to gross out his friends.

So it isn’t original in terms of the art either.

Putting the two things together? Again, not enough to make it original. And, based on the editor’s letter to the reader, The Auteur desperately wants to be original. It’s good, it’s imaginative. Those qualities are enough.

CREDITS

Presidents Day, Part 1 of 5: Persistence of Vision; writer and letterer, Rick Spears; artist, James Callahan; colorist, Luigi Anderson; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

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