Tag Archives: Brandon Graham



Alex Degen is working in a place that many cartoonists want to be working in. It’s a place of wonder and experimentation. He’s definitely someone I’d love to sit down and have a long talk with over tea, beer, whatever. What he does in this collection of comics hits close to home since it’s the sort of comics I like to create. I feel that I know a goodly amount about this as I’ve studied numerous similar work over the years and I know several cartoonists in a similar boat. That said, this is a pretty specific way of working.

Some label this type of cartooning as “dream logic” or “psychedelic.” What they mean is that the work evokes an anything-goes quality or follows a stream-of-consciousness narrative. This is seemingly loose work. But that doesn’t mean it’s a free pass to get sloppy. Instead, you want to be pretty clean and precise with your presentation in order to go to some weird places and have it read properly. All this Degen does quite well.

This book collects six parts of previous webcomics which add up to one wild journey. Each part ends with a “to be continued” and it provides an essential pause. I say this because that may help break things down a bit for you, if you’re totally new. What you’ll initially find is a world where it seems as if anything is liable to explode or melt or some such surreal craziness. Let’s get one thing straight, the definition of “cancatervater.” It means, “to heap into a pile.” Does that help? Well, does it? Okay, think of this Cancatervater as a most sinister force plotting to take over the world. Now, add Mighty Star, our superhero, to the mix.


What happens is, well, a little of everything. It’s science fiction, fantasy, manga, and bit of a bodice ripper. Twice, we have two pretty young women suddenly bare breasted. One is Bijoux, a typical manga type in skin-tight clothes. The other is far less obvious, an aerialist, Zoe Trala. In both cases, it seems that a certain amount of tension, made up of pent-up hormones and angst, has reached a point of no return. The women’s clothes are not ripped off of them. They simply find themselves without tops. So, needless to say, this book has mature content, more for older teens and above. In the end, this book is more cerebral than titillating.

It’s after this second incident with Zoe Trala’s missing top that more nudity is included but it has purpose. It’s always of a rather understated nature, not offensive or particularly gratuitous. And it leads us to one of the most compelling scenes in the narrative. Mighty Star’s journey leads him to a forest. And hanging from the trees are numerous naked bodies of both men and women. They aren’t hung dead bodies. No, instead, they fall from the trees just like apples. In fact, they each have a big apple stem where each head should be. This is the most explicit symbol of the forbidden knowledge that Mighty Star has been confronting all along.


All the characters here are elusive and enigmatic. Moreover, the superhero motif is not obviously vigorous but mysterious. In a setting for action there is farce and ambiguity. The style here is a somewhat rougher version of King City’s Brandon Graham. Offbeat. Off–kilter. Dialed back to just the right frequency. When you expect conflict, you may end up with a muffled sedate response. Sex. Violence. Superheroes. Leave it to a cartoonist like Alex Degen to balance all that with such a wry and ironic sensibility.

Yes, Alex, I’ll be waiting with tea, beer, or whatever. I’m sure we’d have one hell of a good talk.

MIGHTY STAR AND THE CASTLE OF THE CANCATERVATER is a 172-page, black & white, trade paperback, priced at $15.00, published by Koyama Press. For more details, visit our friends at Koyama Press right here.

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Filed under Alex Degen, Brandon Graham, Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Koyama Press, Webcomics

Comics Review: Brandon Graham and MULTIPLE WARHEADS


Brandon Graham is something of a hero in the world of comics. He seems to have a magic touch that allows him to create stories with the most loopy plots full of the most absurd puns. Sometimes his art appears to function at the level of the most basic signifier, however, those basic elements have a way of building into glorious heroic structures.

Take in Brandon Graham’s work piece by piece. Let it roll around in your mouth. Savor each morsel.

“Multiple Warheads” has just completed a four-issue run with Image Comics, with a promise of more to come. In this first run, we follow the adventures of Sexica and Nikoli as they make their way to the Impossible City. Threaded throughout this road trip tale is a parallel tale of an organ smuggler in pursuit of the ultimate magical organ. For a comic that has all the signs of being made up as it goes along, this is a nicely balanced layered plot.

This is a good time to look back at Issue Four, the whole shooting match, and consider what it all means. Let’s start with a top ten list, a highlight of some of the beautiful treats found in this last and most recent issue.


1. Mysterious Books. Ah, a portal to something more or is it mostly to use on your bum?


2. Feet. Oh, so much to say about peds, a beautiful subject in its own right.


3. Maps. Maps inside of fruit, no less.


4. Whales. When in doubt, a floating whale.


5. Another arresting isolated image: The bird becomes an instant piece of art.


6. Faced with Faces: One of a variety of possible paths for our hero.


7. Another odd bit of word play that deserves a closer look.


8. More details not to be missed. Would this work as a real game? Sure.


9. Heart dissected for your pleasure.


10. Motorcycle diaries.

And then take that motorcycle sequence and add it to this complexity:


For those new to Graham’s work, or even for those with already some passing interest, the key lies in the details, the parts and the whole, on a page by page basis. Graham’s comics tend to add up more like an experience than just as a work with a driven narrative flow. It brings to mind such dreamy stuff as the films of Terry Gilliam that, for the most part, seem to be best digested as a series of compelling sequences instead of a traditional story. It works in the hands of Gilliam because he’s a master of the visual and the same can be said of Graham. And, with that in mind, there is a story, a big story, to follow in “Multiple Warheads.”

Graham reunites two of his favorite characters, two young lovers by the names of Sexica and Nikoli. The last time we saw these two, Sexica was an organ smuggler. As a last hurrah, Sexica sewed a wolf’s penis on to her boyfriend, Nikoli. It was a birthday present, you understand, and Nikoli was pleased and so was Sexica. Howwever, this fun did not come without complications. Nikoli is now sort of a werewolf. Only sort of, so that’s not too bad. He’s mostly a mechanic and a good guy. There’s also Lenin, Nikoli’s car. And there’s Pumpkin Patch, Sexica former organ smuggling boss. Our story begins shortly after everything has been blown to bits. Nikoli and Sexica must leave their destroyed Red City and head to the Impossible City.

Along the way, Sexica tries to relax on her impromptu vacation but there are lingering regrets over having retired from organ smuggling. To contrast that with what she’s missing, we have this other story going on about another smuggler who has been assigned to find the most magical and powerful organs yet to be smuggled! What is magical and powerful is sort of relative in this world but it’s best to just keep moving toward the next big thing until further notice.

It’s at the first chance to get back into the game that Sexica takes the bait. Some weird little penguin-like creature is in search of a wizard’s larder and that’s good enough for Sexica. She admits that once an organ smuggler, always an organ smuggler: “I’ve always been like this. I need to see what I can get away with to feel like I’ve got freedom.”

That pretty much sums it all up. We all would like to see what we can get away with so we can feel like we have freedom!

Brandon Graham and “Multiple Warheads” will stir up your subversive side and inspire you to pursue your own freedom. Okay, so that takes care of this first batch, “Multiple Warheads: Alphabet to Infinity.” The next batch is to be entitled, “Multiple Warheads: Ghost Town.”

Find Brandon Graham here. Find “Multiple Warheads” here. Find our friends at Image Comics here.


Filed under Alternative Comics, Brandon Graham, Comics, Comics Reviews, Comix, Experimental Comics, Fusion Comics, Humor, Image Comics, Underground Comics