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Trouble with Comics, Christopher Allen Reviews Cockbone

Christopher Allen Reviews Cockbone

Writer/Artist - Josh Simmons
Available at author’s website

Once when I was a kid, I opened a book of matches at my grandparents’ house and a litter of baby spiders streamed out of it, over my hand. Now, THAT was disturbing, to the extent I still remember it today. Josh Simmons wants to disturb you, but is way too pleased with his work to be able to hide it. He’s going to call it All About Fuckin or in this case, “Cockbone,” and you’re going to know its degradation going in. Fair enough.

Simmons is a cartoonist who, like Ivan Brunetti, has improved his craft while at the same time pursuing a nihilistic endgame. The storytelling here is clear, the linework bold, and there are a handful of images that will stay in one’s mind the way a Charles Burns image might, a good example being Cockbone’s destroyed member itself. One can’t deny the power of that—what male hasn’t had a flashing worry about severe injury to his penis?

"Cockbone" is a pitch black horror story about a simple man whose only worth to his family or anyone else, apparently, are the hallucinatory properties of his semen. Incest ensues. Much blood is spilled. It ends badly for all.

As should be clear from the title alone, the comic is NSFW. I must admit, I was toying around with other words to use in place of Not Safe For Work, but I think it would be unfair to go so far as to call this Not So Fucking Worthwhile, or a Nihilistic Solipsistic Fucking Waste, just because it wasn’t worthwhile for me. And it really didn’t evoke a strong enough reaction for me to want to go after it like that, even though it seems like Simmons is aiming for something of the sort. I can get with Johnny Ryan, Crumb or Brunetti because of the solid comic instincts on which they hang their dark fabric, and Al Columbia’s work resonates like trauma I didn’t know I was repressing, but “Cockbone” seemed childish to me, its horrors unimaginative and empty, more like the film, Gummo. Not that everything needs to have lofty goals, but If there was a deeper ambition here, I couldn’t detect it. I will give Simmons credit for putting his toxic id right out there, unadorned and unencoded. There are a lot of mainstream comments with more insidious ideas. Still, that doesn’t mean I have to swallow it. Sometimes you get the bone, and sometimes the bone gets you.

— Christopher Allen

  1. troublewithcomics posted this
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