T-Rex was once a Michael Bay caliber producer, but one huge flop sends him really not only professionally, but personally. In a desperate attempt to cling to fame and success he goes way, way, way off the deep end.
First disclosure: this book was not written for me. It was definitely written for a different demographic. Now that we’ve established that …
Auteur #1 opens with a drug trip that is actually pretty interesting. T-Rex, our protagonist, is dealing very badly with the flop of his latest Hollywood flick: Cosmos. Like any good LA-LA-Land producer he turns to drugs and righteous outrage for solace. Within the span of six pages he has not only thrown a bottle of alcohol at his television, but wrenched the offensive boob tube from the wall and chucked it out the window to a, no doubt, fiery death. Next, T-Rex drives drunk to the Hollywood Hills mansion of former studio owner Zaul Pear and crashes his fancy, mid-life-crisis sports car into Zaul’s gate. He shouts at Zaul (a wheel-chair bound octogenarian), steals some of his medication and then the former studio owner shoots him with a tranquilizer.
Yeah, it gets nuttier! Cut to: the set of T-Rex’s next big motion picture! On the set of President’s Day (a gore-slasher flick featuring Reagan), T-Rex overrules calls made by the director, rewrites the slasher film and falls in love with an extra walking around the lot because of “her big black ass”. (In the interest of full disclosure I’m going to let you know that this is where I really stopped enjoying Auteur #1). An unclear chase scene follows, takes up the space of a few panels, and T-Rex goes to have lunch of Zaul Jr. who reminds our producer protagonist what a hack he is.
Employing yet another poor coping mechanism, T-Rex goes to a Vatican-themed strip club, talks to the stripper nun, hallucinates and decides what his magnum opus really needs is a “murder consultant” in the form of an honest-to-goodness serial killer.
I don’t know what Rick Spears is going for here, but I very much don’t like it. The parody aspect of the contemporary entertainment industry is probably spot on, but the attempt to package it as a crazy, whack-a-doo drug trip with saucy language for the sake of shock value rubs me all the wrong way. Nobody in this comic has anything even remotely redeemable or likeable about them and they (T-Rex most notably), aren’t even compelling enough in their machinations to be worth reading about anyway. I am left feeling dirtier for having read Auteur #1 and fail to see how this madhouse of an issue is supposed to stretch into a full arch.
Rick Spears deserves a little credit though: his crazy narrative voice is consistent throughout. Point for that, at least.
BRIGHT AND UGLY
James Callahan’s art with Luigi Anderson’s colours over top fuse together to bring life to the nutjob world Rick Spears set down in the dialogue (and, no doubt, in his descriptions of action aswell). All the people – leading man T-Rex notably – look like they’ve been crafted out of silly putty and dunked in acid. The fluid sensibility serves the frequent fluctuations between reality and T-Rex’s drug-induced hallucinations throughout Auteur #1.
However, once again, they are very reminiscent of what Darick Robertson did in Transmetropolitan, but Robertson did it better. There are some panels (the ones with a lot of entrails come to mind), where Callahan’s linework goes a little too wibbly-wobbly for my sensibilities. The colouring is often as bright and sickening as what happens on the page and the point is probably to make the reader uncomfortable.
However, if anything short of discomfort was Callahan and Anderson’s conceit then I’m not sure they achieved it.
Everything from the writing to the art of Auteur #1 wants to be Transmetropolitan, but something about this story misses the fun of that Warren Ellis/Darick Roberston series. If you don’t mind a series that goes so far beyond homage it is very nearly pastiche and offensive phrases employed just for the fun of it then Auteur #1 might be for you, but I wouldn’t recommend it to most people.