Lots of comics come out all the time — some contemplative, some silly, some violent, and some meaningful. Once in a while, a comic comes along that's actually different. Since 2003, the writer of this piece has read literally thousands of comics, so know this statement has some weight: Cello #1 is some of the wildest stuff seen in comics.
The series description on ComiXology sums up the basics, "One elephant's journey through addiction, puppets, and the black market organ trade." The titular elephant, Cello, walks through the streets of a major city without a single odd look from anyone. Starting out, that's weird. Then, it turns out that Cello is a contract killer, murdering people based on their blood types to get organs for a decidedly not-legal mercantile enterprise. If that's not enough, he's addicted to sniffing vanilla — literal vanilla, the stuff you get at the supermarket. He has backstory and delusions and sings 4 Non Blondes to feel better, and there are wildly incompetent cops trying to track him as "Mr. Pieces," but woefully ill-equipped (intellectually anyway) to get the job done. This isn't even half of the zaniness happening here; we're not even discussing Mylyssa.
The artwork from David Cousens is, in turns, crisp and surreal, using a sharper Grand Theft Auto style of illustration and coloring on some sections while going full Hanna-Barbera animation style on other sections, all seamlessly appearing as if they belong together. That's hard but really remarkable to see. Then there's the script (and lettering) from Hobbes LeVey, which plays every wholly outrageous element and plays it as straight as a scene from an FX drama. There are so many layers to this wild, imaginative title that it's baffling and entrancing and impossible to forget.
This might not be prancing across the stage at the Eisners any time soon, but it's a well-developed (if relentlessly unexpected) narrative that will take up rent-free residence in your head and strongly resist eviction. RATING: BUY.
By Hobbes LeVey, David Cousens
Intonation. The best comic ever written… seriously. 36 high quality pages of elephant flavored delight. One elephant's journey through addiction, puppets, and the black market organ trade.