Cinema Purgatorio is the new curated Alan Moore anthology comic coming out from Bleeding Cool owners Avatar Press. Launched at the London Super Comic Con and available digitally right now, this 52 page anthology be out in comic stores this Wednesday for $5.99.
They are well ahead of it I'm told, with material coming in for issue 11.
Moore may not appreciated the comparison, but it does remind me an awful lot of Warrior Magazine. A mixture of disparate strips, all in black and white, crossing from genre to genre, exploring new and old ideas alike, but with a general approach in common, even if arrived by through happenstance.
These are all people telling the stories they really want to, amongst friends and colleagues – and competitors. It's only going to drive them to one up each other. And the readers will be the benefactors.
It begins with the joining construct of the comic. A cinema, the kind of dodgy cinema from past decades, one before the might media megaplexes of today, where the popcorn was stale, the staff barely tolerated your presence and someone in the back seats was always masturbating.
And then there's the films they play. And in the first issue we get something close to the Keystone Kops. But something that rapidly becomes a story of seventies malevolent criminals and police corruption. A silent movie that speaks volumes. Then we have the feature presentations. The standout for me is Modded by Kieron Gillen and Ignacio Caleres which is, simply put, Mad Max meets Pokemon. And they are bloody blatant about it as well.
Ignacio also seems to be channelling a far more detailed Simon Bisley, which is utterly perfect for this project.
It's a time of post apocalyptic trial with lawlessness rife across the deserted wasteland – and daemons are rife for fighting and fighting for. We are given a typical bullying situation – and a possibility to take the fight back and wreak revenge. It is, quite deliberately, no more complex than an actual Pokemon storyline, but with with many more details explored and the consequences exposed. Also there are bigger weapons.
The Vast by Christos Gage and Gabriel Andrade is an fighter attack squad dealing with the gigantic monsters that plague the planet – one in particular named Apex. As with Modded, it is the insane details that transform this story and the very real close up threat demonstrated here.
A More Perfect Union by Max Brooks and Michael Dipascale is very much not up for leading with the high concept, rather saving that for later. So there is very little in the way of letting us know that the Civil War being fought is actually against giant ants. Because for now there are far more important details obsessing the characters as mutiny is threatened amongst the men and Colonel Thomas Chamberlain has to motivate a team of deserters. I have to say, the case for desertion seems to be a lot more persuasive in this comic book…
Garth Ennis and Raulo Cacares continue their Code Pru-niverse stories, as the official response forces dealing with a supernatural-filled New York continue to have their hands full. Very reminiscent of Top Ten, the paramedics here have to deal with the most ridiculous notions as if they were the every day mundane realities of their job. Which is exactly what they are. Cacares specifically deserves praise for the intense and contrasting black-and-white details that sit between Charles Burns and Phil Winslade in defining the shapes and details of this world.
And so the themes of the comic emerge. Classic tropes of pulp fiction, either turned on their head, given new filters or explored in ridiculous detail, by some of the very best comic creators we have today. And a shot across the bows for Best Anthology for the 2017 Eisners.
Will you enter the cinema? The underlying threat is that one through the crimson red doors, even in black and white, you may never leave…