Staff: Michael Matlock
Abstract Jesus with creepy eyes.
It’s Jesus time. I’m talking old school Jesus style. Tonight I’m reading “Testament Comics Presents” and I think I’m in for a good one. Now, I can’t be hard because it was clearly inspired by the J-man himself. I’m expecting this to be as good as the 2nd coming is cracked up to be so let’s jump in and hope we get raptured!
Well divinely inspired the first page is not. There are 12 pictures that offer fractures of gospel that when read… don’t actually form a coherent message. It leaves me a bit confused and the various art styles leave a lot to be desired. But then I hit page two and it all makes sense. We get 70’s hair Jesus and he is rock’en what looks like a kung fu stance.
But in all seriousness, the art style keeps shifting so this makes me think it was meant almost as an abstract piece. They are highly stylized with some adopting almost a minimalist approach. The consistency of color vs black and white is a bit off putting. This is one of those rare instances where I can’t tell if it was intentional or is terrible. It’s either the most disjointed comic I’ve ever read, or the most artistic and abstract. The more I read, the more I believe the latter is true.
Page 11 informs us that the preceding story comes from the Gospel of John (Chapter 1, Verse 1-14). The first part serves almost as a visualization of the gospel’s themes and messages. The visuals tied in nicely with what was saying and served as a visual aid for some of the more divisive phrases.
So the lettering is weird. However, what isn’t in this comic. For the most part it’s legible, but lettering should serve to enhance the comic rather than to simply convey the message. Some of the text however is near illegible due to font choice. They use a very serifey high gothic font style with what looks like a thick stroke to break up the chapter and at one point I thought the next part would be an excerpt from the book of “Rebelation”.
Chapter two introduces us to the use of type as art and, though creative, is totally unable to be followed. The illustrated story is chapter 1 of the book of revelations, but I can hardly read it. The comic flips from a vertical to a horizontal format. I had to crane my neck to try to read it and eventually I just rotated it. Now there is some scary imagery in here if you take it as such. I had some music on in the background when reviewing this that probably didn’t help- but even without it there is some very bizarre and unsettling images (tall, thin, faceless people in long black robe and a crazy-eyed Jesus come to mind… and will remain in my nightmares). That’s not to say the art is bad. It’s good… I think. It is also REALLY abstract.
Story two ends with the creepiest baby I have ever seen (and I am comparing that to the baby from Kinesis so…). It is also accompanied by another shift, this time back to vertical formatting. I should not now that this book really could have benefited from a person savvy with layout. Borders are shown, things don’t line up, and a lot of the confusion over whether this is abstract or bad comes from sloppy editing. Things are drawn beyond the edge of the panel so it cuts off sharply.
So to wrap things up… this is a weird comic. I don’t think it really benefits from the medium. It would be better displayed as an art gallery installation than a PDF. I think I’ve decided that it is meaning to be abstract and possibly a little unsettling and not just bad. That doesn’t excuse the poor editing and terrible typography.