The Regal Beast collection here that I pulled off of the bookshelf comes from several years ago during my first visit to the Small Press Expo in Bethesda Maryland. The graphic album, which veers in and out of comics, but which I think has enough comics blood in it to qualify for this reviews series includes work from multiple artists — Peter Thompson, Michael Comeau, Tara Azzopardi, Tony Hamilton, and Christopher Hutsul. You can’t really tell from the cover image used here, but it’s printed on stack of multiple paper stocks in a three-hold binding from the type of material you’d find in a cheap Mead folder. I appear to have snagged #186 of 200 copies that were made.
What you have here is a menagerie of short comics stories, single-page splashes, and stand-alone pin-up graphics. The one that immediately caught my eye at its table initially was it’s goofy-faced Captain America poster that reads in Sharpie autograph fashion: “To all my illegitimate children in Vietnam, Stay in school. Cap!” The book’s riffs on Godzilla, Ted Nugent, and even the Voltron and Power Rangers concepts fed into my initial fascination, but it was really the Peter Thompson drawings — sort of narrative, two-dimensional sculptures more than anything else — and Tony Hamilton’s “My Perfect Image” story that drew me in and sold me the book.
Hamilton’s use of negative space really exploits the woodcut print style it hearkens back to. I’d love to see more good noir comics writers experiment with this kind of comic a lot more. Even though this one is very words-heavy, it still manages to use its interspersed sequences effectively. As I’d with Intrepideers, I really enjoy watching thought experiments in storytelling and sequential image organization like you find as SPX and MoCCA, and this book is great showcase of that exploration in motion.