By Justin McCarty
Inspired by the TV shows the creators grew up watching in the UK, Alex Automatic is an Inspector Gadget-ish spy. He’s more machine than a man. Alex Automatic is really Alex Anderson, a man that has been experimented on to turn him into the perfect weapon. Stay with me, the initial premise isn’t new, but the execution is pretty unique and fun. So Alex’s brain has been so screwed with that he can’t tell what’s real and he slips in and out of the delusion of being the star hero in a TV show called Alex Automatic. As you might tell this back and forth between reality and delusion allows for some pretty creative storytelling.
Alex is being kept in a secret government facility when a couple of journalists find him and break him out. The journalists find him and escape with him. From there, we get to learn about Alex and the world around him. There is an evil corporation behind it all. Assassins both real and imagined keep Alex on the run. There is also a cooly named big bad guy, Mr. Zero. There is a whole world built here to explore, and while we don’t get that deep into any one part, it gives you all you need to feel like this is a fully realized world.
What you’ve really come for though, is Alex. He never can tell if what he is seeing is real or all in his head, put there by Prism. (Or is it Prysm?) Several of the characters look similar. Ordinarily, this would be distracting in a comic, here though, it adds to the sense of confusion that is present in Alex's mind. When we slip from the real to fantasy it can be hard to tell the difference, that's true for the reader as well as Alex. There is so much depth to Alex and this fantasy world we must navigate with him. We can only interpret the world through our senses and nothing else. If our senses tell us nothing about the world around us, how can we know what is real? Does it matter?
Every piece of the comic comes together. All the components work together to give you a sense of schizophrenia. The style of artwork, lettering, color, composition, and narrative, all keep you in a state of awe at the world Alex inhabits, both within his mind and the real one that is out to get him. The action is fun and the surface plots are very entertaining. The lettering touches are fun. There is a meta quality to the comic. Everything drives home this idea that what Alex is experiencing might not be real. Right down to him pulling a caption box off the page and looking at it.
I have come to really love exploring Kickstarter funded comics. They are some of the most surprisingly inventive comics you’ll read. Although, this really shouldn’t surprise me. When the creators and their fans are the only people that matter in the process, comics can be free to experiment and tell unique stories. Alex Automatic is one of those unique stories.
If you are looking for something truly different, look no further than Alex Automatic. It is different while still building on the archetypes and tropes you’re familiar with. I highly recommend reading it.
Alex Automatic 1 & 2
Cabal Comics Comics Group
Writer: Fraser Campbell
Art: James Corcoran
Color: David B. Cooper
Lettering and Design (Issue 1): Colin Bell
Lettering and Design (Issue 2): Aditya Bidikar