One thing you should know before getting involved with Oni Press’ The Auteur is this: it’s fucking psychotic. In fact, I’m not sure this has any damn right being a comic book. It’s weird, it’s gory, it’s ridiculously profane and churlish, almost completely nonsensical and offensively abrasive ... and that’s exactly why you should be reading it.
Okay, so to set the scene here, the beginning of this book sees the main character, Nathan T. Rex, attempting to find what he deems to be the perfect pair of breasts for his all-too-realistic slasher flick, President’s Day.
When finally found - in a gratuitous double page spread, no less - he then spends most of the rest of The Auteur’s pages trying to convince his leading lady to get them out on film, eventually using his own laughably unimpressive (yet talkative and top hat-wearing) wiener to seal the deal.
There follows a shocking, bloody and total dismemberment, and a drug-fueled, surrealist, high-seas cover-up, which includes, but is not limited to, the following: projectile vomiting, melting skin around a cartoon rabbit frame, a bag filled with human entrails, naked soul-sucking ghosts, Cthulu in a dirty t-shirt, a guy stabbing AND biting a fucking great white shark, and finally, someone uttering the phrase “I barfed on my dick.”
I’ll probably get a lot of flack for saying that The Auteur is a comic book conjuring of William S. Burroughs, but ... well, it totally is. I get the same disgustedly addictive feeling I did when I read Naked Lunch, Junkie or The Place of Dead Roads - sort of like I want to simultaneously take a shower while wallowing in its muck. I think I’d hate it ... if I didn’t love it so much.
And that’s the thing, Spears and Callahan do an insane job of lampooning pretty much everyone and everything “show business” in this book - so much so that you loathe everything so distastefully represented in Nathan Rex’s character. He is the ultimate personification of something you love to hate - like an annoying mosquito bite that feels sickly great to scratch, you really wish he was alive just so you could kill him. Therein lies the genius of this book: it begs you to fucking hate it, and rewards you it.
Like Spears’ narrative, the art from Callahan is once again all over the shop, switching between hastily-drawn, oddly proportioned figure work, lovingly-rendered genitalia, gorgeously horrific butchery and a nightmarishly bad drug trip that is wet with nausea. It is consistently inconsistent and ... look it’s just fucking weird, and you’re either going to love it or think it’s the anti-christ of comic books, but either way, you’re just gonna have to read it.
I’ve said this before about other books, but I’ve never meant it so much as I do here: I have absolutely zero idea of where The Auteur is going next. None. And almost despite myself, I have to continue tapping my vein and getting my fix of this sweet, sweet skag ... whether I like it or not.
Writer/Letterer: Rick Spears Artist: James Callahan Colorist: Luigi Anderson Publisher: Oni Press Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/14/14 Format: Ongoing, Print/Digital