Club Queen Rat King [Small Press]
Club Queen Rat King (Ray Ray Books): Emma Louthan's impressive A4-size mini-comic is a thing of rare beauty, hailing from Cody Pickrodt’s small press publishing endeavor. Club Queen Rat King juxtaposes the titular queen and king as social oddities coveted in a bizarre and surreal nightclub. The startling realization we slowly acquiesce to is that they're really no different than the odd conglomeration of social mores, and artifacts, and sexualization that accumulates in our modern club scene. It’s a place where, if you’re good enough, you catch the eye of the owners, and are spirited away to the VIP room with mysterious offers of employment. It's exclusive, and that's secretly what we all aspire to be, to be special, to have access, to be different, to be in on the secret, whatever the secret is, and the depths we’re willing to go to in order to obtain that, even when we harbor a sneaking suspicion in our gut that something just isn’t quite right. Exclusivity is one of the keys to ego, and the culture perpetuating that, as the owners say “Even God isn’t allowed in VIP!” As great as the story and themes are, Emma Louthan’s art is also something special. Her diminutive figure scale is composed of very fine lines, the characters dance around on the page like some kind of underground Victorian sketches, ensconced in feathered wisps of ink on porous paper. There are two colors prevalent, a rich blue and a sort of burnt mustard yellow. It is all things. It is weird, and different, and poignant. It is revolting, and irresistible, and important. It’s one of the best art comics I’ve read in a while. Man, it’s only January and I now officially have one entry slotted in for contenders on my Best of 2014 list. Grade A+.