Shit Flingers: Bestiary (Martian Lizard Press)

SF BESTIARY #1 DIGITALThe Kickstarter community has seen fit to bless us with Shit Flingers: Bestiary. It’s rude and crude, a little bit rough around the edges, but golly there’s a lot of potential here. If you enjoy re-imaginings of history with comic twists – such as humans-turned-apes for protagonists – this may be something you want to check out. Leave maturity at the door.

SF BESTIARY #1 DIGITALPublisher: Martian Lizard Press
Writer: Jimmy Furlong, Pete McQue, Jeff Aiden, David Hailwood, Jack Chambers
Artist: Andrew Hartmann, Renzo Rodriguez, Daniel Bell, Tony Suleri, Barry McClain
Price: TBC

Our rating: [star rating=”3.5″]

Shit Flingers is going to be one of those comic books that you either love or hate from the first issue. We are not lowered gently into its turbulent waters with hand-held origin stories drawn in great sweeping arcs, but more dunked under with a little prayer that you keep up. The opening is an information-dump written entirely in the style of an illuminated manuscript, which while a little tough to read at first, gives you a brief backstory of each of our characters and how they came to be an ape – because of course our motley crew of apes were once human (French to be precise!) The illumination around the edges of these pages is very beautiful, a lot of hard work has gone into just these pages alone and it really shines through.

Shit Flingers: Bestiary is set in 1453 to 1585 where the group are living in the Bestiary under the Sistine Chapel, working for the church hunting down beasties and heretics amongst other nasties of the time. Issue one (out of six) is a series of short stories created by different teams of artists and writers. Each is a standalone tale of an adventure and are quite different from each other so the pace is quick and character developments are kept fresh in the reader’s mind. The writing is a tiny bit clunky in places – really formal “Queen’s English” will be upstaged by more informal speech (sometimes on the same page) so the character voices aren’t as solid as perhaps we’re used to in other comic books. However, it is genuinely funny in places, and with a few pop culture references tucked neatly in which make sense despite the time period, and nailing the character voices in place will come with time and practice – and we can give these creators that practice by supporting the next book! There are also a few typos sprinkled throughout the issue, but this actually adds to the charm of the book, but please, creators, don’t make that a habit.

Each of these short stories also has a very solid, very different style of artwork, which is lending itself to the Shit Flingers legend. We are given detailed rooms to examine, learning more about these characters’ habits and preferences in the first story. In another, lots of detail is given over to the big baddy which grounds the whole thing in reality and makes this comic book quite believable amongst all the hocus pocus and drug-use (please see: Grenouille the drug-addicted orangutan.) There is a style of art for everybody within these pages and it’s fantastic to see artists given a lot of freedom to practice their craft.

Shit Slingers isn’t going to be everybody’s cup of tea because it can be quite crude in places, however – this will find a firm place in some people’s hearts and collections. It’s a mix of crude humour, barely contained moments of violence – see Chabot the capuchin and his “haunted” razor – but also genuine amusement that we weren’t expecting.