Monday, February 9, 2009

Ray Fawkes and Cameron Stewart's "The Apocalipstix #1"

I didn't get a chance to buy many books at this past weekend's New York Comic Con, but I had to swing by the Oni Press table to pick up a copy of The Apocalipstix by Ray Fawkes and Cameron Stewart.

Oni is definitely the heavy-hitter of the independent comics publishing. They are, after all, responsible for Bryan Lee O'Malley's incomparable Scott Pilgrim series (now on its fifth volume and soon to be a major Michael Cera-starring motion picture) and Stephen Colbert's Tek Jansen.

The Apocalipstix is a poppy, fast-paced post-apocalyptic comedy that makes a grand addition to the Oni shelf. The titular band is a trio of girl rockers who are on the verge of musical world domination when nuclear armageddon strikes. But the girls and their instruments survive the end of the apocalypse and, with a shrug, begin their "End of the World Tour."

Volume One features three stories, each focused on a particular post-apocalyptic trope. In "Death Jones Cross Bones," the girls pursue a road pirate who has stolen their gear and find themselves inside the pirate city. "Sick Picnic" finds them battling giant radioactive ants. And, in "Gasoline Rock Machine," The Apocalipstix participate in a musical death match (sans the death) in the hopes of winning a gas stash big enough to get to California, which is is rumored to still be green.

Fawkes and Stewart deliberately include elements in their book that, taken separately, have the potential to be dreary or grating. The Apocalipstix are the ultimate Mary Sues -- beautiful, self-assured, and able to out-gun and out-jam anyone they meet. Rhythm guitarist Dot is the stereotypically happy-go-lucky blonde, endlessly peppy despite the shattered state of the world, thinking that the end of the world is the perfect time for us all to start getting along. Drummer Megumi, perhaps the last Japanese woman on Earth, speaks exclusively in Japanese -- though she and her bandmates never have trouble understanding one another. And then there's the fact that nearly everyone in the book dresses like an extra from Mad Max. But by playfully juggling and subverting the common themes of both rocker girl comics and diesel-fueled, post-apocalyptic movies (plus the pitch-perfect artwork), the creators have built a goofy, tongue-clucking homage to both genres that's simply good fun.

Click here to sample a 50 page preview of the book.

[The Apocalipstix]

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