Xeno Kaiju [Small Press]
Xeno Kaiju (Hic & Hic Publications): The latest offering in the Newsprint Revivalist Movement is Xeno Kaiju by Pat Aulisio, published by Matt Moses and the illustrious Hic & Hoc Publications. Aulisio quickly dazzled me with his Bowman 2016 series, and here he applies his bravura brand of ballsy bookmaking to imaginative monster battles in the Japanese tradition, feverishly tinged with xenophobia. There ain't a single word in this robust story, but it’s basically a three-act play with an epilogue: Aliens Arrive (it’s not even debated that they exist, just fast forward to the good parts), Monsters Are Awoken (don’t ask how, it’s just sci-fi magic with ill intent, they aim to misbehave), Cities Are Destroyed (in all their fiery urban glory!), and Planetary Forces Retaliate (in a brief, meager, vain attempt to halt their rampage at the very end). If you can imagine a highly unrestrained, even more indie eye-candy version of James Stokoe’s Godzilla: The Half Century War, or some sort of cosmic bender including the lovechild of Rafael Grampa and Geoff Darrow on methamphetamine with his mouth duct-taped shut, or uhh, something like that (pffft!), then you might be somewhere in the neighborhood of Xeno Kaiju. Aulisio’s work is bold, epic, and flawless for what it is. His monster jam comic fills nearly every crevice of the page with textures, patterns, technology, and matter, swirls of ink coalescing to form nascent imagery. It’s full of unchecked imagination and a sort of claustrophobic sense of glee. It’s subtly humorous too; from the alien POV, it basically devalues the human experience entirely. The inhabitants of the planet are just play things, non-entities, ants, the planet is just a playground for monsters. Aulisio controls the colors and line weight so well, running the gamut from black and white, to shocking and vast splashes of red, to eerie and serene smoke as the dust settles. The scale of the oversized pages and “chunky” wood pulp newsprint also makes me feel like if I was a kid, I’d be tempted to color in all these black and white panels with uneven zeal. They are ripe for the taking to my 5-year old mind’s eye. I’ve basically never met a Hic & Hoc Publication that I didn’t like, and Pat Aulisio is a creator who can always be counted on to further this impressive record. Xeno Kaiju is the best sequential art binge hangover I’ve had in years. Grade A+.