Saturday, December 30, 2006

Tony Loco #1

When I found out that Illusive Arts is a new publisher from the San Francisco Bay Area from where I grew up, I was excited to see what would unfold since not too many comic books have originated from a home-grown publishing house. (Image doesn't count...they moved over after seeing the light). The most popular home-grown comic book was The Fish Police waaaaay back in the 80's during the Independents Boom. (While Mignola is a northern Californian residing in the Bay Area, I'm not sure if Hellboy would be counted).

The first issue of Tony Loco does not disappoint. From the intriguing, action-packed cover detailing a muscle-bound figure clad in ferocious-looking armor with guns pointing over an Aztec-influenced background with a menacing mace and stuffed teddy bear (???) pulling tow! The cover alone is worth the price of admission! Ironically, there isn't a remnant of the cover hero inside the book. The first issue introduces us to Tony Loco in his rather passive state. He hasn't said a word for almost twenty years. Teague's artwork horrifically illustrates from Tony's mind's eye perhaps the cause for his muted suffering. The surrounding world as he sees it is inhabited by vile creatures that would silence any man's mouth. However, on the final page, we see something completely the opposite of what has been portrayed throughout the book giving readers a ray of hope that what Tony envisages isn’t all horrible and terrifying.

I love how Teague and McCaw pique reader’s curiosity as the cover image with title blazoned above portrays a super-heroic figure in the midst of saving someone whereas the inside content portrays the total antithesis: a man who is out of shape, mute, and seemingly, indifferent. How will the package Tony receives in the mail from his mother unleash the hero within? How did Tony end up in the hospital for the mentally ill? What caused him to see the world around him as portrayed in the book? Teague and McCaw have done a great job setting up the pieces serving as a launch pad for the rest of the storyline.

Illusive Arts has taken a risk in putting out a first issue that is reminiscent of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest meets Desperados meets Silent Hill. The Big Two would never take a gamble like this; but, we are the beneficiaries of their risk-taking. McCaw brilliantly portrays layers of Tony’s personality without him ever saying a word or evoking a thought-balloon. The writing and script make full use of the 22 pages available to tell the story. Teague’s artwork reminds me of some of the edgier Adult Swim cartoons I see when channel-surfing past midnight. His artwork reminds me of lighter-toned Sam Kieth. This is great stuff!

The first issue of Tony Loco has set loose the fertile imaginations of its creators. This book is off to an exciting start by introducing an intriguing cast of characters you don’t normally see in your average comic book; taut storytelling with subplots being unraveled with every turn of the page; and noveau, edgy artwork that is completely off-the-hook! There isn’t a book out in the market like Tony Loco. You’d be doing yourself a great disservice if you let this book fly under your radar and didn’t buy it.

Highly Recommended!!! 9.5 out of 10 Stars!

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