By Dustin Cabeal
The Incal marks the first time I’ve read anything by Alexandro Jodorowsky or Moebius. I’ve probably broken some comic taboo that I care nothing about. A little backstory for me, if you tell me there is a creator I must read, that I need to read, I won’t. I’ll wait until I happen across it which is the case here with The Incal.
I might be able to blame The Incal for the annoying formula that most modern comic creators use, in that is begins on action and then works its way back through the story. I know that Marvel loves this formula even if they’ve slightly moved away from it in the last year or so. The difference maker is that this book is nearly fifty pages and the Marvel & DC titles that were copying the formula were on twenty-two.
We meet John Difool who is a low-level private detective. A future dick if you will. He’s thrown off a bridge known for its suicides and saved by the same people that threw him. Police bots get involved and shoot them all out of the sky, but he survives again. We get part of his story when the cops question him, but then when he heads to a robot sex house (so ahead of its time!), we learn the other part of the story. He has a device called “The Incal” and is told that it can save the universe.
The story is very much a tale of a man getting incredibly lucky while also being terribly unlucky. Sure, John survives everything that’s thrown at him only to end up in deeper shit the very next step. The pacing though makes it an excellent story. You can read through it very quickly because it never stops to rest. There’s a decent amount of character development for John that appears near the end of the volume. I won’t spoil it, but the Incal brings out the deeper personality traits from John.
The artwork is, of course, to die for. It comes from the story as well though because it’s so layered and thought out. There are all types of creatures and robots, and instead of everyone stopping to look at them, they’re just a part of the world. I hate sci-fi in which the main character needs to stare at everyone so that the audience can appreciate the art or graphics. John walks through life and if you glean the world that’s cool, but he’s not going to stop and let you soak it in. Valarien is on my list to read, but this book reminded me a lot of the movie in that the movie was trying to make a complex and diverse world like the one that’s created here. No handshaking, just diving right into a world full of rules and science and mystery. It feels real, it feels lived in and aged. It’s tough to do sci-fi like The Incal because creating a complicated world isn’t easy to convey in a few pages, yet the creators do that here. I can see why so many people try to copy works like The Incal, but I can also see why so many of them fail… these two creators are merely in a different league. You can’t copy or imitate, but you certainly can be inspired by them.
If you’ve never read this work by two comic creators that are always referred to as masters, then you can grab it from Humanoids or check it out on izneo. The latter is how I read it, and I’m glad that I took a random shot at it. I’ll be looking forward to the next volume to see how John can get out of his current situation and what he’ll step into next.
The Incal vol. 1: The Black Incal
Creators: Alexandro Jodorowsky & Moebius