One of the glorious things about comics is that, due to the economics (ie: people will work for free) you can get some seriously bizarre concepts seeing a life that virtually any other form of entertainment media would balk at. If you thought last week’s “The Actress and The Bishop” was a hard sell for a comic, well, prepare to redefine your pitiful notions about what lengths the medium can be stretched to.
“Strange Eggs Jumps the Shark” is an anthology of stories that are, ostensibly, re-invention pitches for the TV series “Strange Eggs”. So far, so good. Except that Strange Eggs only exists as comicbook continuation of a cancelled TV series that never was, which was (or rather, wasn’t) produced for the fictional “Christian Learning Network”. Still following?
The results are eclectic, to say the least. The actual premise of Strange Eggs, such that it has one, sees a pair of farm kids, Kip and Kelly, delivered an eponymous ovoid by mailman Roger Rogers in each story – it hatches, and from within emerges a story. And often a deliberately offensive, violent, blasphemous one at that. If I’ve got any criticism about this anthology, it’s that this information is sadly lacking from the comic. It’s like reading a “What If” when you don’t know the original story – though in fairness, it’s not essential to your understanding, it just makes things a bit smoother once you know it.
As for the stories themselves, “esoteric” is the only word that does them justice. The art ranges from carefully rendered to crude scrawls. The writing from intricately structured to stream-of-consciousness. And like all anthology comics, some of it’ll click with you, and some won’t. Jen Feinberg and Todd Meister contribute a relentlessly bleak and story about an miscarried foetus. Chris Reilly and Rodger Langridge show Strange Egg’s TV show being replaced by a mime version of Faust…for radio. Jhonen Vasquez contributes a story in such typically bad taste that you’re surprised it managed to get through customs at all. J. Marc Schmidt’s “Those Seventies Shows” switches from surrealist discourse to porno movie over the course of 4 pages so dementedly, you’d think he’s cut slices out of four seperate comics. God help me, there’s even a Lost parody. It has the logo and everything.
Honestly, if you’ve read any of Slave Labor’s original properties before, you know more or less what to expect – a comic that, were it to take human form, would probably be 6-year-old goth tripping on crystalmeth at his own birthday party. But let’s face it, there’s room for a little of that once in a while.