Review by Frank Plowright
Punks is the Three Stooges for stoners. It ploughs a very narrow furrow relentlessly, gracelessly and nihilistically. Those that like it love it, and those who don’t hate it. Given the book’s title is Nutpuncher, admirers of Proust should stay well clear.
Abe, Dog, Fist and Skull are allegedly friends, yet despise each other, and the title is given a protracted airing in the first chapter. The cast are constructed to suit the digital manipulation of artist Kody Chamberlain, as four distinctive heads on suits. Abe is Abraham Lincoln, Fist and Skull are just that, and Dog is a bulldog. Fist can’t speak (he has no mouth), so communicates via holding up text signs. The quartet are involved in almost freeform scripts liberally scattered with cultural and entertainment references that you’ll either get, or will blow a mile over your head.
Chamberlain’s art is constructed to resemble photographic collage. It’s unique for contemporary graphic novels, and that’s initially impressive, but wears threadbare rapidly as a succession of almost exclusively grey on brown pages follow. This accentuates a homemade ethos, by giving the impression the art is pasted onto paper bags. The rare splashes of colour provide a welcome diversion from what otherwise has a very dreary appearance. The collage format is also inherently limiting as it can’t convey motion, resulting in a flat two-dimensional experience.
Joshua Hale Fialkov’s initial reliance on the same cast is gradually broadened by the appropriation of other images, Sean Connery, for instance, but the same snotty aesthetic prevails throughout. For anyone over the age consent with half a brain Nutpuncher will be formless whimsy, and that’s surely the point. Settle down, toke up and join in, and someday you’ll be asking yourself why the hell you picked this up. Alternatively buy a graphic novel with some substance.