Don’t assume anything about Eric Barnett and Carol Zara’s ALIEN TOILET MONSTER. If you do, the creative team is destined to pull the rug out from under you. But that’s what I love about it.
ATM is a “nihilistic satire”, which means that it refuses to be defined by what goes for standard comic fare in the 2010s. If you pick it because the cover seems to tease a WITCHBLADE-esque bad girl comic…then you’ll be thrown by the genuine tale of heartache that awaits. If you thought the title suggested an exploitation gorefest similar to ZOMBIE ASS: THE TOILET OF THE DEAD…then you’ll be surprised when the book pokes fun at consumer culture. And, by the end of issue 1, if you’re assuming that you’re about to get a dimension-hopping action-adventure romp…Zara and Barnett likely have more head-spinning swerves in store for you.
ALIEN TOILET MONSTER takes place in the not-so-distant future. A future will physicist have unraveled one of the mysteries of science: Travel through multiple dimensions. And what have we done with this discovery? We’ve turned these “Multis” into tourist destinations and programming for our amusement. We’ve also made it illegal to bounce from Multi to Multi recklessly. And while that’s not when things get weird in ATM (that starts on page 1), it is where things get the most interesting. Particularly for Frankie, a grumbly diner owner from Multi-16 who bumps into a younger, less cranky version of himself.
Oh. And there is definitely an alien toilet monster involved too…
What ALIEN TOILET MONSTER lacks in poop jokes it makes up for in the imagination department. Similar to comic creators like Grant Morrison (ALL-STAR SUPERMAN) or Gerard Way (DOOM PATROL), Barnett and Zara are concerned more with ideas than traditional narrative structures. It makes ATM lively and unpredictable — the type of story that puts you in suspense with every page turn because you’ve legitimately never experienced something quite like this before.
Here’s a bit more interior artwork from Eric Barnett…Oh, and did I mention co-creator Carol Zara shows up in the book, as well?
One of the reasons I started doing “Read Good $#!+” as an ongoing series of suggestions is because I wanted to get back to what I loved about comics. Unlike other visual mediums such as film and television, comic books have long embodied an unfettered “anything goes” attitude that has made them a volatile option in the realm of entertainment. As a matter of fact, I’d argue that the reason comics are allowed to be so mercurial is that they are often dismissed by the populace because they make the uninitiated uneasy. In my opinion, ALIEN TOILET MONSTER embraces the edge and whimsy that makes a comic book uniquely comic book-y.
My take: More of that, please.