Fogtown by Andersen Gabrych & Brad Rader

Fogtown
by Andersen Gabrych & Brad Rader
Vertigo Crime, 2010

Hmm. In American comics, there’s adult content and then there’s adult content. Adult content includes what you expect in comics written for 14 year-old boys, like extreme violence and women without as many clothes, lines or dimensions as the men. Then there’s adult content, the sort of thing you couldn’t get away with in a PG-13 film (or, let’s be realistic here, R). This isn’t just a more extreme version of what’s already being served up for kids, but any content other than the plainest of vanilla sex. The kind of sexual moral bendiness exhibited 35 years ago in, say, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, is almost invisible now in modern mainstream entertainment, which is why Fogtown (despite its relentlessly ugly artwork) is quite refreshing.

This hardboiled detective story initially appears to be a European take on an iconic American genre (like À bout de souffle), but despite its sexual sophistication it’s actually American and not translated from anything. It features an unusually conflicted Mickey-Rourkesque hero and has several O-kaaay scenes which one wouldn’t expect from, say, Raymond Chandler. Although the artwork adds to the pulp fiction atmosphere, I was distracted by the unusually amateurish anatomy, and this is from someone who draws noses shaped like the number 7.

Not something you’d want kids to read, but thankfully it possesses the most unappealing cover I’ve ever seen on a comic.

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