Eric's Archaia Comics Review: KILLING PICKMAN Collected Edition Hardcover
Published: December 18, 2011 - 9:03am
With Killing Pickman, Jason Becker and Jon Rea have created a beautiful mess that confuses, challenges and intrigues. While it might not be everyone's cup of tea, it always remains interesting.
Killing Pickman is a hard book to read. It's convoluted and highly tangential at times being preachy about everything from the validity of characterizing the Judeo-Christian God as just to the slew of crime scene investigation shows. All the while, references from movies and literature come at a mile a minute (The title itself and subsequent titular villain are taken from a Lovecraft shortstory.). Added to that, the plot is a modern pseudo-retelling of the first half of Beowolf. In short, Jason Becker's comic is a mess, but a very compelling and artistic one to say the least. Everything within the graphic novel seems to be set to the purpose of baffling and intriguing all at once.
This all begins with the introduction of the main characters the titular serial killer Pickman and his nemesis Detective Zhu. The former is a bit like The Joker if the character were given demonic powers and the latter is a bit of a cliché of a cop on the edge. If that were it, this book wouldn't be as impressive as it is, but the story is populated by real flesh and blood characters that ground the more flamboyant elements. With so many big concepts and set pieces being presented, it's the more nuanced and smaller things that make the most impact. The main tale is fun to read, but that extra subtlety adds quite a bit appeal. Still, though, there will be a good percentage of people who won't get past the surreal facade.
The biggest critique to this book is that it lacks adequate transition from chapter to chapter. It's always good when one wants more of a book rather than throwing it in the waste bin, but those tiny bits in between would have made the story feel more complete and easier to follow. As is, it will be difficult for the reader to ascertain the passage of time or change of scene, especially in a collected edition such as this (There's no real-time waiting required.). The confusion does, however, add to the sense of insanity much like how Stanley Kubrick purposely included continuity errors in the final cut of A Clockwork Orange (Maybe it was intentional?).
Anyone who enjoyed the look of Dave McKean's Cages will find some welcome visuals the in the general aesthetic of Jon Rea's art although it is drastically different in execution and tone. There's a tinge of Cubism in the angular nature of the images, but a true eclecticism to be found with each page and panel. These changes represent a less a lack of consistency, but more the affect of deep focus in films. The layout, that consist of feux cardboard, manilla folders, etc., is always interesting and retains a sense of place even when the narrative flies past. It also gives the feel of a picture shrine hastily put together by a person with schizophrenia. Every so often, words can be found etched into a panel that give extra insight and/or humor into whatever is going on. All said, it makes it one of the most visually alluring titles out there.
Like it or hate it, one will definitely come away from Killing Pickman with a strong opinion, headache, or both. It's effectiveness in obtaining a reaction at all, though, makes it hard to ignore.
Story: Jason Becker
Art: Jon Rea & Matt Talbot
Cover: Jon Rea
145 Pages/FC (Hardcover)
On Sale December 14, 2011!