The term “zero fucks given” is bandied about a lot these days. Ironically, it is more often done so by the great many people who give a great many fucks. But upon reading the first issue of the second series of The Auteur - Oni Press’ absurdist, full-frontal attack on the Hollywood creative machine - never before has the phrase carried such blissful exuberance, such keen delight in expressing just how much it does not care about your precious little snowflake feelings. And while that approach is sure to piss off... just, SO MANY people... it also makes this, for me, a firm front-runner for Best Single Issue of 2015. It’s hard to say exactly where, when or why I fell in love with The Auteur: Sister Bambi #1. Maybe it’s the relentless despicability of pretty much every single character, like the ascot-wearing, offensively-obsessed, nazi Vincent Price clones; or the lovestruck titular protagonist, Nathan T. Rex (think Spider Jerusalem without the moral code), who happens to himself be a misanthropic casual racist, given the repast he makes for his black girlfriend, and the fact that he is willing to do business with offensively-obsessed, nazi Vincent Price clones.
Maybe it’s the fact that Rick Spears has written one of the best vision quest-based, ranting soliloquies I’ve ever read, or that he and artist James Callahan reference terrible Mexploitation movies and even more terrible Frank Miller quotes. Maybe it’s because this book features uzi-brandishing, Star of David-carving Hasidic Ninjews; some of the funniest, most indecent and incitory dialogue in comics history; or the most satisfying gore in sequential art.
What I am absolutely certain of, however, is that I love how deliciously, joyously spiteful The Auteur continues to be in its second series. In the way they buck against and fuck with our 21st Century, progressive sensibilities and social mores, Spears and Callahan are the finest, swarthiest trolls the comic book world has ever seen. Watching them find new and creative ways to say “Fuck You” is a sick, remorseless joy, particularly in the context of what is, essentially, a love story, charting as it does the love between a man and a pure woman; the love between a man and a pure creative process; and the love between an audience and pure, unadulterated violence.
Of course, the point of any story - whether it’s in film or even comics - is to make you feel something; even if that something is repellent, vitriolic or loathsome. There’s been a lot of that in our little community recently, but rather than backing away from it (or with the intent to apologize for it later), Spears, Callahan and Oni Press rush into those feels headlong, with a ratchet noisemaker in one hand, an air horn in the other and their pants firmly around their ankles. They do this not simply because they understand the old equation that Comedy = Tragedy + Time, but that sometimes the offensive is funny simply because it’s offensive, just like sometimes art is great because it’s so very bad.
But as cruelly a hand as the entire team deals in The Auteur: Sister Bambi #1, as pugnaciously abusive is its every element, there is a magic in their malicious mayhem, because the end result is genuine laughs from a farcical story with a narrative and visual style that is guaranteed to braze your cockles and raise your dander in the most delightful ways, all while spelunking the basest depth of low art and high concepts.
If you want tongue-in-(butt)cheek comics that tickle your neck while going for the jugular, accept no substitutes... because, quite frankly, there are none.