Review by- Stephen Harper (folkloreillustration.com)
Being a massive comic fan I’m always on the look out for new titles, writers and artists. I’ve a tendency to grab myself a load from up coming independent writers when I visit comic conventions. Over the years the rise in comic conventions and festivals in the UK is surging, so is people self publishing.
Granted there’s a lot of rubbish, but there’s also a wealth of fantastic books out there being produced by writers and artists that deserve more recognition. One of these artists is Paul PJ Johnson. Paul has been knocking around for a few years with his creations Razor Bastard, Once Monster and Kid Monkey which he collaborated with writer James McCullough. Even though he has a strong fan base and deservedly so, my personal belief is he deserves more recognition of his talents because his creations and books are truly impressive. His artwork is so quirky in style, bursting with colour and outrageous in tone and for anyone who grew up on 80’s pop-culture these are the books for you.
His latest graphic novel Death Truck so epic in proportions I firmly believe that this is the book that’ll bring true recognition of his talents and probably fame and fortune (Obviously if that comes I’d like a percentage because of this review).
Death Truck does what it says on the tin. It’s a bonkers story of a truck that breaks out of a military base and goes on a murderous rampage across America. What Johnson does brilliantly in all of his books is include an array of wacky characters and here’s no exception. We’re introduced to Cat as she’s spread on her back, legs akimbo being, er satisfied by her girlfriend. Cat is lewd, crude and tattooed, a tough girl who takes no prisoners. It’s this sort of tone that runs throughout the story. The witty dialogue between characters is a joy and there’s so many laugh of loud moments including lines such as “ You’re that hot I’m not sure whether to put bullets in you or fingers” and a very funny sequence on a plane with a couple getting it on in the bathroom as Death Truck ploughs through the cockpit.
Johnson’s imagination is so wild, but sophisticated that the book plays out like an animated film. It never stands still once. If people aren’t having their faces crushed across the panels there’s scantly-clad ladies kicking ass.
What’s clever is his use of previous characters from his other books. Johnson has the maturity to place them throughout to build his universe, but not to hinder the experience of a solo story just in case their new to his world.
What I adore about Death Truck is the lack of restraint. Johnson clearly pays homage to the films and characters he loves and it clearly shows with the enthusiasm. Johnson leaves everything on the page. You can imagine him laughing at his own jokes and cringing when sketching death sequences because he’s basically writing and illustrating this for himself, you can see that this is a book he’d actually buy himself.
I don’t want to go too much into the story as it’ll spoil the fun, but Cat is an awesome female character, she teams with the wonderful bearded-Mexican magician Zeke to try take down the celestial possessed Death Truck before cosmic beings take over the planet and cops and military on their tales.
Its only March, but without doubt Death Truck is the best graphic novel of the year. It’s gross, hysterical, fantastically written, gorgeously illustrated and just good bloody fun.
Miss it at your peril.