Outlaw biker gangs, shady taco trucks, Jesus lovin’ sheriffs, and an ice cream man with a long curved knife. These are just some of the far-out concepts and characters explored in John Lupo Avanti’s debut graphic novel Monster Myths from Com.X comics. With an art style so radically beautiful, Avanti captures your attention from the cover alone, then drags you in for the kill.
An over exaggerated and satirical take on his own small town growing up, Avanti tells the story of recovering felon Alfredo and the sticky pickle he’s caught up in while trying to restore order to his beloved community. Alfredo resides in the urban low income town of Lower Scabo which is terrorized by the Cannibals Motorcycle Club and their drug running, prostitution, and tying-fat-kids-up-in-trees ways. Up the road is the pristine town of Northview, a gated suburban paradise cleansed of sin and vice. Alfredo doesn’t want to resort back to a life of crime and violence, but he also doesn’t fit with the Americana look and feel that’s the foundation of the people of Northview. After being randomly attacked by the Cannibals and left for dead bleeding in the gutters, Alfredo decides it’s time for a change, and the motorcycle club led by the man named Gordon has to go.
The plan is simple; tag the city hall with Cannibals Motorcycle Club logos and designs and let them take the heat for it. The God-loving people of Northview will rise-up and hunt down the gang, while at the same time move in and fix-up Lower Scabo for the better while Alfredo and his friends watch from a distance. Everything goes well as Gordon’s tyrannical rule over the people of Lower Scabo comes to an end, but that’s when things start to backfire. The poor folks that Alfredo was trying to help suddenly find themselves kicked out of their own town by Northview’s redevelopers, as their convenient retail shopping outlets and luxurious condominiums are installed where they once used to call ‘home.’ Alfredo is doing fine in the taco truck he invested in for the tagging operation, but how far will he go with his initial Robin Hood act?
This being my first introduction to Avanti, I can say without a doubt that he left me extremely impressed. His art style is an intoxicatingly magnificent blend of John Kricfalusi, Riley Rossmo, Tom Bunk, and Paul Pope page after page. The characters were charming yet bizarre, and totally relatable in a strange nostalgic way. I was a little disappointed that the entire graphic novel was just in black and white, for I believe a full colored edition would greatly do it justice. The lettering was a little challenging to read at first, but slowly over time my eyes did adapt. The lettering had the same twisted feel as the characters did, where you want to disapprove but find that you simply can’t.
Monster Myths certainly took me by surprise, and totally won me over with its glorious art and dark humor. I highly recommend it for those who are getting bored from the events of both Marvel and DC as of late, or just any superhero comics in general. Refreshing is good, and Monster Myths not only quenches that thirst, but makes you completely addicted to it at the same time. If this is Avanti’s first graphic novel, I eagerly await to see what he creates next! In the meantime I’ll just watch the squirrels and crows battle to the death from my window.