Publisher: Image
Words: W. Maxwell Prince
Pencils and Inks: Martin Morazzo
Colours: Matt Lopes
Backup colours: Chris O’Halloran
Letters: Good Old Neon

In the second issue of Art Brut we delve deeper. There are a lot of heavy concepts going on but they are explored solidly and in an interesting way. We see more of Margo’s home life, some advancing of the plot and some really freaky murder. It’s a very heady mix of a whole host of things which blues the line between creation, imagination and art in a clever way.

We open with Margo having a shower than ends with her drowning in paint but it’s okay it’s a dream/nightmare and she finds herself in bed with her girlfriend Inny (who happens to be an artist). Margo is struggling after her weird experiences in a painting which we’ll get onto shortly. She’s wondering how her world now seems so dull. It’s a really interesting way of looking at the way art itself impacts how we feel and view the world, only this goes deeper.

The flashback itself takes is into Art Brut’s world, a strange almost magical place where he battles art tumours with a wand. It’s completely surreal and odd especially when accompanied by Manny, a wooden possible mannequin as a sidekick. This is the strange world that Margo found herself in.

What I like is that the art doesn’t depict things literally. The character gets are wandering through the Mona Lisa but this is not the landscape we are familiar with. The colours are quite different there’s a dream like quality to the design of the landscape but it’s not a dream, it deeper than that. The art is playing on what our expectations of a world within in a painting would look like because it’s not literal.

Like I said there’s some deep stuff going on here but it’s done well that it doesn’t overwhelm. It’s intriguing, clever, makes you think in the best way. It’s surreal but realistic for the story. It is odd but at the same time there’s a real somber feel to things even in this bright seemingly cheerful appearing world. There’s darkness under the pastel colours perhaps nicely typified by an eyeball in the beak of a black crow.

Of course there’s also the world outside and that’s realised well too. Margo’s relationship and home life is depicted with just as much care. The realism that evokes, the simplicity contrasts nicely with the complexity of art in both her job and the surreal world in which she found herself.

There is of course another crime and this is equally brutal and gory. There’s a lot of dead bodies making a somewhat gruesome sight as things appear to be escalating. There’s hints of the crimes perpetrators but the motive is a bit more elusive. It’s clear something big is going on. I’m happy to let this thread weave through because the hints are intriguing.

We don’t see much of the titular character this issue except in flashback but he does turn up before the end. We get another backup tale which reveals more of his past and how he has ended up the way he is. Told in a very classic fun comic way we can see that Art’s past was rather tragic. Having a tragic backstory played out like a golden age comic is a choice that works and reflects the weird nature this books has.

I have a lot of favourite moments. The opening with the shower was one of my favourites, especially from a art standpoint. I felt this benefited too from a reread. It has a lot going on but never feels overstuffed. Pacing is good, art fits and I love the surreal nature of what’s being explored.

I don’t want to say this makes me feel smart, but I certainly feel like I’m engaging with comic book art and storytelling. Two issues in and I am invested.

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