The Unimpeachable R. Sikoryak And “The Impeachable Trump”

With his long-awaited Constitution Illustrated  having just been released by Drawn+Quarterly (which I would expect you’ll be able to see a critique of here on this site in the near future, given that I already reviewed the “preview” Constitution Illustrated Sampler mini), you’d think cartoonist R. Sikoryak would be busy enough, but apparently not — and hey, who doesn’t have a few spare minutes to trash our repugnant and incompetent current president, anyway? Here’s the rub, though — are you really “trashing” old, fat, syphilitic, orange, impotent, misogynist, and bigoted if you’re just quoting his own words?

Like his large-format (and also D+Q-published) The Unquotable Trump, Sikoryak isn’t “making anything up” but the illustrations in his new follow-up mini The Impeachable Trump, which he self-published in the “early days” of this pathetically mismanaged coronavirus pandemic. As the cover itself states, these are more of Donnie Dumbshit’s “best words” re-contextualized by means of transposing them onto several (nine, to be precise) faux comic book covers that ape the style and design of various eras and titles, with a particular emphasis on Marvel “Bronze Age” stuff. So you know what you’re getting into with this thing right off the bat, and that’s as it should be, since if you want somebody to lie to you — well, hey, we already have a president for that.

As with all these Sikoryak projects, this one is a showcase for his multi-faceted and endlessly adaptable artistic skills, but what those skills often overshadow by dint of their technical proficiency is just how straight-up imaginative this guy is — after all, it’s one thing to rip words right out of Trump’s mouth, but quite another to think up some batshit-crazy scenario that both lampoons and exposes the reality of whatever it is he’s saying in equal measure. So while it’s fair to say that you know exactly where Sikoryak’s getting all this material from, it’s just as fair to wonder “where does he come up with this stuff?” But then, the same is also true for the subject of this comic, as well — I mean, damn, the Space Force? Where the hell did that come from — and why?

Actually, that’s a question that Sikoryak sort of “answers” here, in roundabout fashion, but at the end of the day — as with so much these days — there’s ultimately no rational explanation of it. We have an absurd excuse for a leader who’s ushered in an absurd era where a significant portion of the population is so bereft of real reasons for believing that they’re on the side of right and good that they’ve concocted a sick narrative that posits that their guy Trump, a friend of notorious sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein, is actually fighting a secret war against a worldwide network of Satanic pedophiles who drink the blood of children — and who are all, just by coincidence I’m sure, Democrats. You really can’t make this stuff up — but they have anyway. And the fact that they’ve done so is proof positive of how fucking impossible it is to come with a legitimate rationale for liking and supporting this guy.

Now, look, I’ll be the first to admit that taking a break to have a few laughs is hardly the most productive response to what very well could prove to be the death of democracy itself at the hands of a would-be tinpot dictator — but it’s also true that without humor, life isn’t really worth living, so I don’t feel too terribly guilty about getting a kick out of a book like this, nor should you. And at least this is the kind of humor that compels you to get off your ass and do something about the current situation by painting (okay, drawing) into stark relief just how dumb and dangerous this motherfucker (okay, in Trump’s case maybe that should be daughterfucker) is, and how present and immediate the danger he represents is, rather than the kind of escapist comedy that too many people are indulging in rather than facing the dark nature of reality as it is today. It’ll help you feel good for a short period, and that’s great, but it’s not “feel-good” material in and of itself, and that’s even better.

So, yeah, we are where we are, and it’s too bad the world situation is what it is and that we even have a president Trump and, by extension, a comic like this at all. But reality denial is strictly the province of the “QAnon” crowd and the Republican party, which are essentially one and the same thing at this point, and those of us who haven’t completely lost our goddamned minds will appreciate what Sikoryak has done here even as we find ourselves dismayed by the fact that, despite appearances, he really isn’t really exaggerating anything in these pages at all. Gallows humor, indeed.

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The Impeachable Trump is available for $3.00 from J.T. Yost’s Birdcage Bottom books distro at https://birdcagebottombooks.com/collections/comic-books/products/the-impeachable-trump

Review wrist check – today I broke out the Farer Universal “Beagle II” and put it on a Hirsch “Arne” sailcloth effect strap from their “Performance” series. Nice combo, although this watch looks really nice on brown and tan color straps, as well. Still, anybody can wear a brown or tan strap anytime, why not stand out from the crowd?

 

 

“Schoolhouse Rock” For Grown-Ups? R. Sikoryak’s “Constitution Illustrated Sampler”

Some might be inclined to think that my choice to review R. Sikoryak’s 2019 self-published mini Constitution Illustrated Sampler at a time when we seem to be rolling from one constitutional crisis into another is a case of good timing, but in truth my aims are far more localized, arguably even egocentric : I’m simply on the lookout for the kinds of things I haven’t reviewed before, just to expand the ol’ horizons and what have you, and the idea of a short preview of a longer, forthcoming work fits that bill nicely. Such a curiosity may be tough to evaluate on its own merits, it’s true, but it should be possible to glean from it a general sense of whether or not you want to buy the longer, no-doubt fancier, D+Q hardcover its contents are plucked from when the time comes — and in fact, getting you “jazzed up” to do so is, one would safely assume, the whole point of the thing.

Sikoryak has shown a love for history before, with Masterpiece Comics, and for politics, with The Unquotable Trump, so seeing him turn his considerable talents toward political history is really no surprise — and given that his artistic versatility borders on the endless, you know you can likely count on plenty of “eye candy” to be on offer for you even if the idea of a graphic adaptation of the chapter-and-verse text of the US constitution seems like it wouldn’t be your cup of tea at all. And so you can.

This 16-page “preview” features Sikoryak running the stylistic gamut from cartoony to Kirby to “Sunday funnies” as he delineates the Preamble, and Article 1, Sections 1-4 of this country’s foundational document (okay, its second foundational document, after the first one went belly-up), and it’s all pretty charming, I suppose, simply because you don’t really know what the next page will hold even if you’re one of those tri-corner hat goofballs who knows the text by heart, so — yeah, this is a fun enough little book that you’ll get your three bucks’ worth from, and there’s no shame in that.

As for whether or not it whets your appetite for the bigger, longer, “real thing,” well — that’s a tougher question to answer. I could easily see a reader liking what’s on offer here enough to want more, but I could just as easily see a reader saying to themselves “that’s a neat enough idea, but a couple hundred pages, or whatever, of it might be a little much.” So we’re pretty firmly in “your mileage may vary” territory here with this one.

As to which “side” of the “debate” your humble critic falls on, I guess I’ll wait and see. If other sample pages that come down the pike prove to be as downright agreeable as these are, then what the hell? I’ll probably splurge and get the full work. But if the comics budget is tight in the month it comes out, I could either see myself giving it a pass or waiting for it to turn up at a cheaper price later on. Time will tell — much at it will when it comes to the survival of this struggling old republic, I suppose.

That being said, I know sincerity and heart when I see it, and to date Sikoryak has brought that — as well as a hell of a lot of pure cartooning skill — to every project he’s undertaken to date, and this looks to be no exception. And given that the book will be coming out during an election year, a timely refresher course on what this country is, at least in theory, supposed to stand for is probably a worthy enough thing in and of itself.

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Constitution Illustrated Sampler is available for $3.00 from J.T. Yost’s Birdcage Bottom Books distro at https://birdcagebottombooks.com/collections/comic-books/products/constitution-illustrated-sampler

Also, this review — and all others around these parts — is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. Subscribing is the best way to support my continuing work, so I’d be very appreciative if you’d take a moment to check it out by directing your kind attention to https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

 

This Week’s Reading Round-Up : 10/22/2017 – 10/28/2017

Hey! Whatcha reading this week? I’ll tell you what stood out, for good ill, in my book pile —

R. Sikoryak breaks the mold and gets contemporary in The Unquotable Trump, done up in old-school “giant size special” format by Drawn + Quarterly, and man oh man is this a humdinger of unfortunate laughs. Real quotes from our shithead-in-chief transposed onto re-creations of classic comic book covers (ranging from Plop! to 300 to Watchmen to X-Men and everything in between) is one of those things that only seems like a “no-brainer” after someone’s already done it, and if that “someone” is Sikoryak, you know you’re in very good hands. I guess he originally did this as a 16-page b&w mini-comic, but 48 lush, gigantic, full-color pages is definitely a big step up and does the material justice. It’s all got a tinge of gallows humor to it right now, but if and when this verbally-flatulent, syphilitic asshole is finally impeached, hopefully we’ll all be able to laugh at this book with no strings attached. Your “must-buy” item of the week, right here. The $20.00 cover price is admittedly steep, but you can find it for $13.00-$14.00 easily enough with little to no effort — and you should.

Noel Freibert is a cartoonist I’m only vaguely familiar with by way of his strips in the last Kramers Ergot, but his new graphic novel from Koyama Press, Old Ground, is more than enough to ensure that he’s firmly on my radar screen from here on out. Frogs, dogs, bats, demolition crew workers, dead kids talking to each other from six feet under — it’s damn hard to describe this one, folks, and you really do just have to go with Freibert’s ever-shifting flow. Black, inky blotches coalesce into shapes and forms only barely recognizable as people, animals, or objects; actions make little to no concrete “sense,” at least as far as we understand the term; events start, stop, start up again with little if any regard to instantly-outmoded notions of linearity; giant 18-wheel trucks become small enough to be kicked by their drivers without explanation — and it all seems both inherently creepy and perversely funny. This book exists in a category of one, defies comparison, and challenges your comprehension at all times — but never, miraculously, your patience. I read it from cover to cover in one sitting, then read it again. Might just do the same tomorrow.

I was pretty jazzed for Black Crown Quarterly #1, the debut installment of the centerpiece anthology for Shelly Bond’s new IDW imprint, but now I really can’t remember why. The format’s nice — heavy cardstock cover and thick, glossy paper — but $6.99 for 48 pages is pretty steep, especially when about half the book is promo material that you’ll be able to get for free either online or in the back of other Black Crown books soon enough. Of the original strips on offer, Rob Davis’ “Tales From The Black Crown Pub” is probably the best (although Cindy Whitehead and Nicole Goux’s skateboarding-themed little one-pager is pretty fun, too), a rather cute and charming piece of cartooning that makes the pub at the geographical “center” of this fictitious universe seem a place very much worth exploring, but the other two we’re presented with —one written by CUD bandmates Will Potter and Carl Puttnam and illustrated by Bond’s husband Philip, the other written and drawn by Jamie Coe — are decidedly unimpressive and way too self-consciously “cool,” and the same exact criticisms apply to a short article on Leeds, UK and the interviews with Black Crown creators Tini Howard and Peter Milligan.

The biggest problem here though? The overall Black Crown aesthetic is being defined quickly, and it seems very narrow indeed : Bond’s anglophile and late-’70s punk rock sensibilities might make for a successful series or two, but as the guiding ethos of an entire line? I dunno, seems like things could get pretty repetitive (and dull) pretty quickly, and there’s just about nothing here for a person under, say, 40 years old to relate to. I still have every intention of seeing where Kid Lobotomy goes, and Beto’s art alone makes Assassinistas a guaranteed pull-list addition, but I didn’t need an expensive, overly-pleased-with-itself version of Image+ or Marvel’s Foom! to sell me on those. Who’d have thought that Last Gang in Town, one of the last Vertigo series to go out on Bond’s watch, would serve as the template for the entire next phase of her career?

The last thing worth a mention this week is The Ruff And Reddy Show #1, the latest debut from the DC/Hanna-Barbera partnership. There’s more than a bit of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? to this book, with flesh-and-blood humans and animated cartoon characters (known as “celimates”) existing side-by-side, but given that this one’s written by Howard Chaykin, you know there’s going to be extra layers of too-real darkness underpinning that premise, and so there is : the “celimates” are clearly second-class citizens, our two protagonists turn out to never have gotten along, off-color jokes have potentially disturbing implications — yeah, innocence lost is the order of the day across the board.

That being said, dull revisionism is hardly the raison d’etre of this six-parter, methinks. In the manner of Mark Russell and Steve Pugh’s The Flintstones (although I’m in no way prepared to say this comic compares to that one in terms of quality — at least not yet), Chaykin seems bound and determined to use the apparently-free reign he’s been given in terms of “re-imagining” these characters as a means for shining a (bright, glaring) light on real-world social ills and inequities. Mac Rey’s animation-cel style artwork couches and even soothes some of the script’s heavier body blows. I think I like where this one is heading.

Okay, I think we’re good for this week. I’ve got a package on the way from John Porcellino’s Spit And A Half, so chances are pretty good that there will be at least a couple of items of interest worth talking next time around in there. See you again in seven!