Published on September 21st, 2012 | by ALICE0
King City Review
Last spring I had the pleasure of attending Fan Expo Vancouver where I saw many things, met bunches of neat people, and bought lots of stuff. After time has passed, memories have faded but somethings definitely stick out, like meeting Brandon Graham and the sheer excitement I felt to get King City. I felt a connection to the book before cracking it open. I had read a chapter of it somewhere – perhaps in an issue from Free Comic Book Day or just browsing in a comic shop . It felt so awesome to finally have the whole saga in my hands!
So what is King City about? It begins with Joe and the cat returning to King City. The cat is a weapon. The city is a maze of mob territories, product placement, filth and secrets. Joe a is pretty chill dude who we accompany as he gets back into life in King City. Already there are his ex-girlfriend Anna with new boyfriend troubles of her own, his best friend Pete who has all other sorts of lady problems, and of course the troubles that await Joe.
The story is laid out with a lot happening all at once and every issue is subtly crafted. It almost seems like nothing is happening at all other then these small encounters, until you realize you are right in the thick of it! Which in a strange way parallels the reader’s experience with Joe’s. There are several characters we follow around once Joe runs into them, and while they all deal with different issues such as gang warfare, drug addiction, class struggle and slavery, they are all around love. Romance is a central theme and almost our guide as we journey through King City. Joe has his lost love with Anna, Pete falls for an alien girl, and Anna is torn up watching her boyfriend attempt to recover from the Xombie war. Romance brings them all together just to tear them apart.
An interesting aspect of King City is the approach. Brandon Graham balances the sometimes heavy story line with his lighthearted art style and there are always fun little tidbits for your eyes to find. Every page is jam packed with little gags, small speech bubbles from inconsequential characters, sound effects and branding for the products of King City.Not to mention ninjas battling on rooftops in the background, the cat performing parlour tricks while the other characters eat, the list goes on. King City truly is a love story wrapped in action and just pure fun.
The massive 424 page compilation collects all 12 issues of the series including games, puzzles and cut outs and also features new art. One of the most attractive features of King City is the art. This is one of those books that comes to life on its own. Just by opening it you unleash the joy, silliness and absurdity that lies within. The art style is an interesting mix of eastern art style with western cultural influences. (To which an interesting parallel can be drawn to the release of King City first serialized in issues by Tokyopop then collected into graphic novel format by Image Comics.) The pages and panels are dynamic and ever changing depending on the area of the city or the content of the scene. The characters are cute with a lot of rounded edges and the backdrop is always a jumble of stuff that feels like it barely fits and there is no possible way you could look at it all, complemented by adjacent negative space. The style of the backdrops reminds me much of living in the city with so much going on on the street that one looks to the sky for a visual break.
My personal favourite part of King City is that there is so much to love and there is something for everyone within the french flaps of this book. The cat as a weapon, whom can literally do anything with the right injection, the fun cultural references and in jokes, the characters who all have such big hearts and are mostly without a clue- the excitement and joy will show on your face as you enjoy Catmaster Joe’s saga.