I don’t think I “got” all of Monkey Fist. While reading it I felt like I should have been grasping some deeper meaning, but it never struck me. I never pierced the veil and so I was left wondering if there was some deeper meaning to the story, something that I was missing that others will understand. That didn’t stop me from enjoying the graphic novel which was funded on Kickstarter, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. The star of the book is by far the artwork. Brad Sun’s style is cleaner and more developed than his previous outing Chinatown and the odd character designs fit the world and story quite well. The coloring is also very different and I don’t mean just compared to Sun’s other work, but other comics in general. The coloring is very vibrant, but the palette is filled with warm pastels that you rarely see in comic books. It fits the world and gives the art a unique look. To be honest I would check this book out just for the art alone because Brad Sun’s artwork has quickly become one of my favorite illustrators to keep an eye on. His style is very different from anyone else doing professional or indie work in the comic industry and because of that I can’t get enough.
As for the story of Monkey Fist, it’s written by Brad and his brother Wesley. It’s setup a bit like an old school NES game and chalked full of video game references. You’re probably thinking that it’s an origin story; that we’re going to learn all about Monkey, but that’s not the case. In fact we’re given nothing about this world and very little about our main character Monkey.
The opening is a countdown montage beginning ten years ago showing monkey as a child with glazed over eyes. He continues that way as we jump forward in time until we reach the present and find him working at Fishy Burger. Fishy Burger is a clever name for the company as you’ll see by the end of the story.
Around this time Monkey hears a voice calling out to him. In a way it taunts him and questions what he’s doing with his life. One day the voice tells him to pay attention to the next customer that comes in. The customer is a die-hard Fishy Burger fan and recites a poem in the store before ordering. He basically asks where Fishy Burgers come from and suddenly Monkey’s eyes pop open for the first time. His brain begins rushing with possibilities on where the burgers come from, but one thing becomes clear… he wants to know and no one will tell him.
He asks his boss where the burgers come from, but his boss deflects the question and sends him on lunch just after starting his shift. Monkey finds that strange and decides he’s going to corporate to learn where the burgers come from.
That story is entertaining, but again I’m not sure who the “voice” was or why it was taunting him to go to war with Fishy Burger in the first place. I did enjoy the hell out of the dialogue, the puns and the battles. Monkey throws down against several people, but the Captain was definitely the best. Because he works for Fishy Burger and their restaurant is ship/ocean themed, the Captain continues using nautical terms throughout their fight.
I really can’t stress enough that the art is fantastic. There’s a scene in which Monkey is watching a corporate marketing tape and he tells the company mascot “fuck you” and we see the mascot push the glass of the TV screen like an old school cartoon. It’s that style and visual that makes this story worth reading.
I’m definitely going to sit on this story for a bit before I read it again to see what I missed, but I would love to hear other thoughts on it since a discussion might help as well. It’s a weird book, but I love weird so that didn’t scare me a way. While the story didn’t resonate with me it was still an entertaining read that will definitely appeal to those that love video games and comic books… and guys that write poems about fish burgers.
Writers: Brad & Wesley Sun Artist: Brad Sun Publisher: Sun Bros. Price: $19.99 Release Date: Format: Graphic Novel, Print/Digital Website