Friday, October 17, 2014

Doomboy: A graphic novel for metalheads, dreamers & those looking for inspiration

Doomboy: A graphic novel for metalheads, dreamers & those looking for inspiration
by rick olivares

Art imitates life.

How is that a massive understatement?

James O’Barr wrote and drew “The Crow” as a means of dealing with the death of his girlfriend at the hands of a drunk driver.

Novelist Bill Carter also dealt with loss by finding peace during wartime Sarajevo that resulted in the powerful and influential book, “Fools Rush In” as well as the landmark documentary, “Miss Sarajevo.”

On a Beatles tour of Liverpool and London, many of the early songs of the Fab Four suddenly became crystal clear to me in their intent and meaning.

Songs or even stories and artwork that resonate deeply usually come from the artist’s experiences, feelings and thoughts.

And that leads us to Tony Sandoval’s “Doomboy” released just last month (September 2014) by Magnetic Press for the first time in English (it was originally written in Spanish and translated into French in Europe).

My love for independent comics led me to news about a Mexican artist producing bande dessinees or comics for a French and Belgian audience (think Herge’s “The Adventures of Tintin” and Goscinny and Uderzo’s “Asterix the Gaul”). Now if that doesn’t raise your eyebrow then I don’t know what will.

“Doomboy” was an official selection in the 2012 Angouleme International Comics Festival and that added to the interest when I first heard about Sandoval’s work. It definitely didn’t sound like some lost member of the Legion of the Superheroes. Being a massive music fan, I was certainly pleased to find out that the story was about some metalhead’s coping with the death of his girlfriend, Annie, by rocking out by the sea.

When Sandoval illustrates D (the central character whose nom de guerre is “Doomboy”), I think of Eddie Van Halen’s opening riffs from “Humans Being” from the film, Twister. Or Steve Stevens’ “Theme from Top Gun.” His spreads depicting D’s virtuoso performances are powerful and highly imaginative.

D is a loner with an overactive imagination and a mean temper. After a nasty falling out with his former bandmates, he repairs to the seaside where he expresses his grief through his music that is recorded with the help of his last friend (outside his dog, Elsy), Sepelium.

It is Annie who bequeaths the sobriquet of “Doomboy” to D. And now his unwitting broadcasts (Sepelium thinks he is merely recording the music but he unwittingly broadcasts the music all over town using a pirated radio signal) become the stuff of legend.

However, things get complicated when his identity is found out by his vengeful former bandmates and there is one final violent donnybrook in the end.

“Doomboy” is a paean to lost loves, teen angst, and life. It is also an expressive stylized work that every person who breathed and lived the music of the Smiths, Joy Division, Nirvana, or Otep (if you’re looking for angry metal music) can identify with.

Sandoval’s artwork is reminiscent of the late American cartoonist Harvey Kurtzman whose abstract style distorted figures in very expressive ways paving the way for Roger Crumb, Mad Magazine and even Beavis and Butthead. And for “Doomboy” it’s perfect; a lovely departure from what could have been a gothic or the 70s style of art on Rock ‘n’ Roll Comics that was published by Revolutionary Comics in the late 1980s to the early 1990s.

Despite the 136-pages of “Doomboy” it is not a “heavy” read although the hefty $24.99 price tag on this landscaped-sized graphic novel might be a tad high. If you love music and appreciate books like Calvin & Hobbes (with a lead character with an even overactive imagination), then you’ll love Tony Sandoval’s “Doomboy.”

Now get your ya-ya’s out.

* You may order Tony Sandoval’s “Doomboy” through your favorite comic book specialty shop in Manila. It is published by Magnetic Press out of California, USA. I ordered my copy from Comic Odyssey in Robinson's Galleria.

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