Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Homebrew Vampire Bullets

Have you ever done that thing where you’re jumping out of an exploding helicopter backwards while firing a gun in each hand and the fireball not only fails to injure you but also tousles your hair in such a way as to make you look amazing as you effortlessly land in the Australian desert and it also it lights your cigar for you?
Yeah, me neither. I feel like I have, though, because I’ve read Homebrew Vampire Bullets #0. It’s awesome. 

iPad screenshot elements not included
Here’s what it says on the tin:
“In the tradition of Alan Moore's Dodgem Logic, Tales from the Crypt, 2000AD, Oz Magazine and Metal Hurlant, Home Brew Vampire Bullets is an anthology of 75% R-rated (but not necessarily adult), uniquely Aussie myth spinning, prose, politics and pulp soundtracked by Rose Tatts, soaked in Melbourne Bitter and dyed defiantly navy blue.”
Homebrew Vampire Bullets (HBVB) is intended as a regular anthology of storytelling, both graphic and prose, featuring some epic level creators from around the traps in Melbourne. Issue Zero is an initial, digital taster of things to come. You can download it now for $1.99. ($1.99!)
This 60-page delight features a few self-contained comic strips alongside previews of things to come, such as interviews with creators as to their brainspace, concept art and, in one particularly enjoyable exchange, a lengthy back-and-forth between a words guy and an art guy on the best way to present a panel of female prison masturbation. That conversation is hilariously representative of the greater work – a crass distillation of Ozploitation that, beneath the back-of-the-porno-theatre smirk, displays two creators pouring their sweat and blood into making something incredible. Issue zero feels like an amazing set of special features on a DVD to a movie you watched in a half-remembered dream.
This thing is a mission statement and gives you everything you need to assess if you’re going to want to pick up November’s issue one (spoiler: you will). Garth Jones – full disclosure, we’ve haunted the odd beer garden together – is the man behind the enterprise in a ‘bringing the talent’ together way. He also provides art on the funny as hell initial chapter of Babalon Shokk, in which a dopey metal band turns up to a gig to find L Ron Hubbard and Jack Parsons performing a Satanic sacrifice dicks akimbo. Christian Read provides words shot-through with Aussie slang for the piece, with some epic panel layouts and nifty numbering allowing a lot of heavy lifting to occur in only a few pages. The concept is sound and well introduced.
(As an aside, you can only start to sense how Americanised our pop culture is when you read a character say, “wanna root?” It feels weird. Australia needs to make more things.)
Garth and I grew up in the same outback town – largely in parallel until an eventual meeting over red cask wine – and now that I’m past the adolescent, jealous rage I held against such good-looking men who were succeeding at art things – I can say whole-heartedly that he’s done something special here. As described in #0, it appears he just looked up one day, realised he was surrounded by hordes of talent and the rest is history, but that underplays the work on show here from all involved.
We both retreated from harsh realities and boredom of growing up in a dusty, small town by building a funner life in our brains, but while his was fuelled by rock’n’roll – a truth that seeps out of HBVB’s every pore – I lent on science fiction.
That’s probably why, for me, the stand out work here is The Many Harold Holts of Space and Time, written by Ryan K Lindsay and drawn by Louis Joyce.
It’s perhaps unfair to give it the nod given that its unfair advantage of being one of the only standalone strips on show, but Christ, it’s beautiful. The art is staggering and the writing makes me want to stand and applaud while punching myself in the head that I didn’t create this despite how firmly it lodges in my brain as being right, just and excellent. It’s about how Harold Holt’s disappearance broke space/time and shattered him into, well, you should really read it.

See? Total eye party.

HBVB is a love letter to Australia and how batshit it is. If you’ve ever been in the bush you immediately understand why artists trend towards themes of post-apocalysm, mysticism, unknowable goings on and – even if you’ve always lived in the city – insane dickheads doing ridiculous things.
Look, I’ve written a lot here but maybe it comes through that my praise tumbles out in waves. This thing just made me excited for the medium, for the city and for the people involved. It’s great work and I’m looking forward to more. If you look deep into your soul and decide this isn’t worth $1.99 then you deserve to spend eternity in an RSL haunted by a demonic Bruce Ruxton (this also happens in the book).

*Slow clap*

See more and buy it here.

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