Review: Sick in the Head

With a title like Sick in the Head in the indie submission folder, it could only be one of two things: either a bad exploitation-knobbing horror comic with "extreme" content or a really bad exploitation-knobbing horror comic with "extreme" content. Fortunately for me, it was the former. This review will be short; there isn't much to say about this kind of thing for me. This book will have its audience, but they probably aren't regular readers of the site. Look in the comment section of Bloody Disgusting if you want to meet some. Let's get this over with. Sick in the Head fits in a weirdly common niche of exploitation media: extreme cartoon horror. Taking inspiration from the style and tone of animators like Tex Avery and John Kricfalusi, the genre combines the manic personality and exaggerated visual style of hot-blooded American cartoons and jammed them together with the gratuitous violence, leering sexuality, and barely there plotting of 70's and 80's horror movies. Sometimes you get fun stuff like Angora Napkin and sometimes you get The Haunted World of El Superbeasto. More often than not you get Sick in the Head, which reads very much like something someone had fun writing and illustrating and which serves that purpose admirably. Boobs and gore. Dick jokes. Titty fucking jokes. Meta jokes. It's a comic made with personal passion, but the mistake was submitting it to be pseudo-professionally evaluated when its only redeeming merits are it having been a fun guilty pleasure for the person who made it.

Sick in the HeadThis book isn't irritatingly bad if you've read other stuff in this vein. There's worse out there. There's sort of a plot, some of the cartoon art looks passable some of the time, I never decided to give up and just stop reading it. However, the audience for this kind of thing is pretty slim, not because it's too daring and edgy for normies, but because there is a certain audience that wants to feel daring and edgy for reading stuff like this. If I want politically incorrect acid-tripping bile puked behind my eyelids, I can read the more creatively and richly illustrated The Auteur (which shares a surprising amount of ideas with this book). If I want cartoons getting eviscerated in ironically over the top ways I can read Archie Vs. Predator. If I want cartoon boobs...well, I've got the width and breadth of the Internet for that. The audience for a book like this is small, because it's either people who don't know these other things exist and somehow came across Sick in the Head first, or they are showing up more because they like the idea that somebody is putting themselves out there to draw politically incorrect carnage regardless of the quality of the result. It's the comic equivalent of the movies you see direct-to-DVD distributors like Brain Damage Films or Troma Entertainment release, passion projects of genre fans that result in low-res pastiches of extremely well-worn influences.

The reason I'm not harsher with this book is I think it's really a hobby comic. Something somebody drew because they wanted to tribute their favorite things in comic form rather than necessarily try to create the next hot ticket property for syndication and a toy line. I'm not saying that makes it admirable; it just makes it less obnoxious. That and Sick in the Head isn't as annoying or poorly written as other books I've read with the same DNA, despite this needing to edit out at least ten to twenty unnecessary filler pages minimum. It's fine that this exists. However, when you submit a piece of media to be evaluated critically, you put yourself in competition with everything that critic has ever come across, essentially requesting that your work be positioned on the spectrum of their experience as an audience member. Here at Bastards, we read a lot of comics. We read a lot of comics like this. We read enough that we end up talking in our reviews, not about the details of said comic, but in generalities, about the overall genre the book unremarkably contributes another title too. Make comics. Hell, even sell comics. However, I'm not sure this comic needs to be reviewed, or will likely develop into something that will later need to be reviewed, at least outside of its own niche market. I'm game for extreme, bawdy, ridiculous, and trashy, but for what I wish was the last time, you also need to try to do something new.

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Sick in the Head Creator: Alexander Gustafsson Self-Published Price: $8.20