Movies are a tough business. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry has got a script to pitch, a vision to fulfill, and a stake in financing a flick that could either sink or swim depending on the tides of fandom. Also, lets say you do manage to get a studio, actors, production, effects, and a shirtless cabana boy to bring you coffee? None of that means diddly squat if you can’t please the movie industry’s most formidable opponent, the film critic! Enter Nathan T-Rex, the protagonist for Oni Press’s newest release The Auteur, as he attempts to pick up the broken pieces of his career with sex, drugs, and an axe-wielding Abraham Lincoln. A mile-a-minute comic dripping in ultra-violence, this will keep you glued to your seat as things spiral fantastically out of control.
Dropping straight into a drug induced vision quest, the story opens on Mr. T-Rex as he searches for the answer to his next big film. Waking up after being axed in the head by a pissed off Lincoln, he comes to at his guru’s house, eager to start on a new horror movie entitled President’s Day. Though he is warned that the visions might continue even after he’s back among the living, he pushes forward to produce the new nightmare panorama despite his continuously violent visions and other-worldly experiences. Here the comic flashes back and forth between him fighting critiques about his new movie after his one BILLION dollar film Cosmos busted in theaters, and his current struggle to see President’s Day be the pinnacle of film that he is so damn sure it is. As he continues to fight tooth and nail for his masterpiece, he suddenly has another vision, something so unbelievably chaotic that no one may survive it alive.
The Auteur is pretty insane. Actually, really insane. From the hyper-detailed artwork to the sleaze ball characters, you pretty much want everyone to die in it in the most awful way possible. Yeah, it’s that good. Despite the over-the-top violence, it doesn’t overshadow the underlying story, which is surprisingly deep for being about a drugged-out asshole. It brings to light the struggle of the Hollywood blockbuster and how a few negative words can tear down an entire project. In a city of a million dreams, there is only one chance to make it big and sometimes you got to do some pretty vile shit to do it. Few if any comics manage to create that kind of balance, where the visuals and the words work so well side by side, but The Auteur managed to get it to work. This work will definitely have readers coming back for seconds, if anything, at least to see what Mr. T-Rex has up his sleeve in the next issue.
The writer, Rick Spears, puts his in all this work, taking chances that few outside of Garth “The Menace” Ennis would even dare. Generally known for bouncing around the comic industry and picking up work (and also doing a pretty legit death metal series), this is his first comic that really explores the limits of his creativity. Granted, I haven’t read a lot of his work, but this just might change my mind. On top of the great writing, the combined talent of artist James Callahan and colorist Luigi Anderson really bring The Auteur pop. The line work is fantastically detailed and makes the splatter effects and vision trips larger than life and with the sharp coloring, it wraps up the package with a visual eye-fuckery of madness. Mixing grandiosity with the depraved, The Auteur should be at the top of everyone’s reading list.