Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sword Of My Mouth by Jim Munroe and Shannon Gerard

(No Media Kings/IDW) (Guest Review by Robert Dayton) A strong use of photo references for this pen-and-ink illustrative style adds heavily to the character-driven naturalism. She isn’t drawing from a pool of movie stars ala Alex Ross but from real un-self conscious people (ever seen a movie star? They ain’t real) and their honest, emotional physical and facial gestures. This is not an all-out action comic! In fact, some off the action happens off panel. Sword Of My Mouth seems to be a reaction to the Left Behind series of books and movies (I’ve seen all three movies and loved them but was not left converted or shaking in fear: the intended reaction of the creators) but then seriously tries to answer the question,”No, really, what if The Rapture actually happens?” This graphic novel focuses on a community and neighbourhood level sense of activism. The art-style works perfectly for this. Artist Shannon Gerard does not use panel borders. She utilizes the movement, mannerisms, and interactions of the characters to show the passage of time. I’ve never actually seen anything like it in comics before. It is even more personalized with easy-to-read diary-style lettering.
This is actually the second graphic novel that sci-fi author Jim Munroe has written about The Rapture. The first, Therefore Repent!, was set in Chicago but one doesn’t need to read it to understand Sword Of My Mouth. Shifting to Detroit, more specifically The Heidelberg Project ( the forgotten neighbourhood turned massive, inspiring art project, it makes The Rapture look like an okay time. Except for all those armed asshole angels that swoop in to commit a hostile corporate takeover with their redneck Jesus freak henchmen and the suit-wearing skeletal Famine. These antagonists are not the focus. Many of the characters are just trying to raise a community garden, deal with fractured relationships, explore their mutations and magic, and use clever ways to take a stand and fight back. Moves along nicely, except for a climax that makes for a slightly muddled reading.
Kirk Cameron will most likely not be in the film adaptation.
In every way, this graphic novel is indier-than-thou: even the protagonists look indie! And this is an indie publisher (uhhhh, co-releasing it with the 4th largest comic publisher in North America) and they are finding new ways to reach their audience. Available for download here:

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