Iyashikei is a unique Japanese art style meant to elicit a calming response to readers by taking a slice of life and presenting it in a peaceful and serene way. Going to meathaus.com and being met with a black and white landing page with the succinct message that reads "MEATHAUS IS GONE :(" is generally not the first place one would think of when chasing down this Iyashikei style. However, one of its founding members has managed to create a beautifully adaptive and unnerving version called Rain Like Hammers, released by Image Comics.
Brandon Graham got his start in the comic book world, drawing pornographic comics, and slowly moved through various professional tiers before eventually arriving at Image Comics. His latest release, Rain Like Hammers, is a testament to his unique take on what comics can bring to the art medium.
Graham opens his comic with a muted and simple color palette, using softened earth tones to establish this Iyashikei vibe, where he eschewed any color vibrancy to pull the eyes in different directions but rather guide them over the panels like a slow-moving river. The panel layout follows this simplicity as well, treading smoothly as the narrative establishes narrator Eugene's distinct life in Elephant, a futuristic walking city on the barren world of Crown Majesty.
The comic does have an interesting and engaging plot-line, but it's the Iyashikei style that makes this quarantine story worthwhile during the next winter stretch of Covid. With the uncertainty of the pandemic and political climate looming, watching a character order food and pass his time with his favorite program offers a desperately needed mental time out. Where Graham ultimately succeeds in this story is the careful little hints that Eugene's serene life has something more unknown looming beyond the safety of his daily routine and makes the story as interesting as it is tranquil.
Rain Like Hammers releases monthly, and its first issue hit the shelves on January 20th and is a worthwhile change in the traditional DC/Marvel lineup. Anime fans may also want to take time to dive into this limited 5 issue series as it mirrors the familiar works of the traditional Iyashikei series. The world of Crown Majesty promises much more depth in future issues, and the simple life of Eugene is definitely worth exploring in this alluring run from Image Comics.