Review: “AE: American Evil” or an Open Letter to CФMMIЭ МДЯK (Monochrome May Special)
Dear Mr. C0MMI3 MARK,
Upon seeing your request for feedback on AE: American Evil, your collaborative project with artist Tony Sizzle, I have decided to pen this response and let you know what I think about the book and the prospects for additional AE projects in the future.
As you yourself admit in the forward, American Evil is intended as a propaganda piece in comic book form. You’ve chosen to use the medium in an interesting way, by showing the discord between the best of American ideals as written words and the worst of American history in the images. The dissonance is certainly poignant. Despite being an American myself, I’m not one to shy away from the evils of generations past, so I can see and appreciate what you’re going for here, which (I think) is to put even the most patriotic American in a state of “dis-ease”, a goal in which you are generally successful in achieving.
Sizzle’s artwork is a fitting complement to AE’s overall themes. His use of black and white artwork is very dynamic and engaging, though at times the violence is depicted with a sillier tone than I would prefer (see page 5). There were two pages that unfortunately printed at a very low resolution, and I also don’t understand why the lettering is inconsistent (see page 2). The poodle motif representing the privileged class are certainly a nice touch, though how this is also a subtle slap against the French did not go unnoticed. A true Brit to the end, eh Mark?
I know that you are curious whether a larger project of this kind might be successful. With only 9 pages presented here in AE, there are a lot of disturbing images throughout. Many readers, myself included, might find this presentation to be a bit overwrought if it played out in a larger project. The schtick would not only wear thin, but there is a risk that the points could become blasé after 15, 20, or 30 pages.
Perhaps the biggest challenge that future AE projects might face is that mainstream media is already awash with anti-US messages. Not just the news, of course, but movies, television, music, and mainstream comics all frequently hit similar anti-American notes. A book like AE would, at worst, find itself lost in a sea of similar content, or at best, be seen as a bit too “on the nose” for all but the most fervent of America’s critics.
Should you choose to move forward with an expanded AE project, I suggest using the same format as part of a larger anthology, or as a backup piece to a book with a more traditional narrative line. I also suggest focusing on one atrocity at a time instead of jumping around between slavery, Native American/Indian wars, westward expansion, etc. in the same chapter. These could be very interesting smaller vignettes, and I’m sure the many horrors of history will provide plenty inspiration for additional episodic content.
I hope you find this feedback helpful, Mark. Good luck with your future propaganda efforts and I look forward to seeing the development of your future projects.
Your comrade in comics,
Thanks for reading!
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