Comics Features

REVIEW: Chewler from Shannon Gretzon and David M. Brown

Written by Patrick Smith

Shannon Gretzon and David M. Brown have conceived and produced an 88pp story, that’s comprised of of three ‘acts’, with Sean Fagan performing lettering duties for Chapter One. They usually self-publish, via Exspastic Comics and 5th Dimension Comics, respectively. The pair ultimately concluded that in this instance a Kickstarter launch would be the right way to go, upon Chewler’s completion.

They’ve described this tale as as a ‘balls-to-the-wall, action-packed comedy’. In an effort to encapsulate Chewler’s particular flavour they’ve suggested, ‘Well, if it were animated, it would fit on MTV‘s old Liquid Television or on Adult Swim. If it were a live action film, it might be co-directed by David Lynch and Darren Aronofsky
.
In Chapter One, ‘How Do You Recover Information from a Dead Man’s Brain?’, one’s immediately introduced to ‘General Chewler (Ret.)’, former head of a government agency that dealt with paranormal activities. An agency with a majestically ridiculous acronym. We find him at home in the midst of a scene that is hardly a portrayal of sexagenarian leisured bliss. Chewler’s three sheets to the wind. And then some. He’s just kicked his cat through the window for harbouring ungrateful thoughts. Chewler’s psychic. This doesn’t bode well for the two unexpected gentleman callers, subsequently knocking at his door. Chewler’s packing. The manner in which he handles this uninvited duo is educational and utterly bat-shit crazy.Chewler’s flippin’ insane!

In spite of this mayhem, Chewler soon learns that he’s summoned by the ‘comptroller’ of the United States, ‘Grandmother Supreme’, to undertake a mission. It seems that a mad tycoon, one ‘Rubin Charles III’, plans to find and resurrect the 20th century’s ultimate embodiment of evil, ‘Adolf Hitler’. This action could unleash forces that would destroy the world. And ‘Granny’ requires Chewler‘s uncompromising methods to counter it. Drunk or no. So, at the drop of a hat, he discards retirement like a used cartridge, leaving behind his partner ‘Denise’ to deal with how to feed their pet ‘Siegfried’, when they’re fresh out of plutonium. ‘Siegfried’ is big and has tentacles. And like so, the tone is set.

CHEWLER2

In these opening few pages, as in all that follow, the creators do a number of things; A long-standing trope is acknowledged. It’s staged with visual flair, mad humour and arch dialogue. The final part of the recipe is subversion, usually in the cause of taking a warped, sardonic look at a situation, or a particular ‘target’.

As this joyfully bonkers adventure progresses, just-about every long-standing American institution gets it’s share of mockery:- The Government, Big Business, Secret Services, The Military, The Klan…… Vegas. They’re all up for grabs. You can however be assured that this graphic novel is not a veiled political rant. It’s a bare-faced, inventive, delightfully no-holds-barred, piss-take. And clearly, the goal is to engage, amuse and entertain.

The writing is very good indeed. There’s a dexterity to the storytelling, the voicing of individual characters and every opportunity is taken to maximise the potential for lunacy, wit and outright belly-laughter in each individual scene. The visuals throughout are, frankly, excellent. The twists and turns in this madcap plot are beautifully exploited by Gretzon’s layouts.

However he doesn’t simply settle for maximising the hilarity and the wackiness. The concepts within the premise of this story are mind-blowing and every effort is taken to provide a set of vistas that celebrate the delirium; mad scientist’s laboratories; giant robots; invading alien space-fleets; massive things with tentacles. Robust and solid line-work is artfully complemented with tints and gradations; page layouts, panels and perspectives are toyed with and tailored to each set piece. The resulting finished artwork is practically a celebration of the creative possibilities inherent in single-colour reproduction.

CHEWLER3

I really enjoyed Chewler, can you tell? In my recent interview with co-writer, Brown, which you can read here, he said, ‘My aim was to make reading Chewler equivalent to ‘reading drugs’ if that makes any sense. I’ve always had an unhealthy taste for the outrageous.’ Now if that doesn’t whet your appetites for an unpredictable, quality piece of irreverent and side-splitting graphic fiction, I don’t know what will.

I cordially invite you to have a real good look at their Kickstarter presentation. Chewler would make a truly fine gift for a disturbed friend or family member!

Have you contributed to Chewler‘s Kickstarter yet? Let us know in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Patrick Smith

1 Comment