STORY BY: James Robinson
ART BY: Greg Hinkle
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
Well judging by James Robinson’s Wiki page he isn’t the neurotic arsehole depicted in the new series from Image, ‘Airboy’, by the Mancunian writer himself with art by Greg Hinkle, whose wiki says he’s a Republican member of the Montana Legislature, but I doubt very much that’s the same Greg Hinkle that so perfectly drew Mr Robinson taking a large woman roughly from behind in the pages of the comic.
The series takes a satirical look at the creative process and gives you the feeling the James couldn’t afford a therapist as the brutally stark dialogue and observations of writers block make you wonder if you are in fact reading a comic or witnessing a mental breakdown. The story follows James Robinson as a whiney, self-delusional mirror image of himself who is at best not hateable, as he’s asked to write a public domain, steampunk-esque character Airboy and has to figure out a way to do so that seems fresh and original. Dragging Greg Hinkle into an all-night bender of drugs, booze and really unpleasant sex to find inspiration, the book takes a few twisted turns and ends in an alley that will leave you making noises usually reserved for communicating with babies. The real life Mr Robinson shows his comedic chops as a writer, showing a perfect understanding that true comedy comes from pure misery.
Greg Hinkle uses a limited colour pallet, mainly turquoise (not often used in comics), with his slightly expressionistic, highly detailed line work to great effect showing the reader everything from intimate bar scenes, panoramic shots of airports, his own flaccid penis and the most horrendous sex scene I’ve ever laughed at. The first panel says it all, an almost page sized block of dull, flat, afore mentioned turquoise hitting you in the brain before swinging it open to the second panel of James Robinson on the phone, on the toilet, naked but for a pair of boxer shorts around his ankles. You never feel the gears shift as the pacing goes from introspective pauses to a double page spread of what Toxteth looks like on a Friday night. His comic counterpart is on the dead man’s switch to Robinson’s potential train wreck, he could stop him at any point but just can’t seem to lift his foot.
One scene particularly stood out when James gets home in the small hours and his wife berates him for not telling her he’ll be back late, and you see him sat at the dining table head hung low and the angles in the composition point to a wretched sign on the fridge ‘Back Late’ and you realise how estranged they are. It’s not a funny scene, but it’s the one scene every comedy needs to entrench the readers mind in the protagonists world and make them desperate to escape along with him, using the laughs.
The best part of this comic though is that it FEELS like a comic, it shows and tells in the right proportions, there’s no adverts to break the pacing, there’s even going to be a letters page and there was some nice snippets of future cover art at the back, making the whole twenty two pages feel well worth the £2.45 I paid for it, and I’ll be honest, I’m a trade waiter these days so for something to drag me back into the floppies, it has to be good. Now I have that image of Greg Hinkle’s nob in my head again, great.