There's just something about James Kochalka's quirky, naughty childlike humor and art that's real hard to dislike. Sure, it's a bit precious and more than a little woozy sometimes, kinda like comics' answer to Emo Phillips...but when he's on, he can scale some very tall heights of straightfaced absurdity, and that's always a good thing as far as I'm concerned. I recently received a triple shot of Kochalka-ness, and I will now proceed to tell you all about 'em.
First up, Superf*ckers, one of the most wicked funny superhero not-quite-parodies I've ever encountered. I say not quite because Kochalka's having fun with superheroes here instead of merely making fun and trying to convince us he's too cool for the room. It's a fine-line difference, but it's a difference just the same. I never get a feeling of mean-spiritedness from Kochalka; to him his characters are all as interesting as he can make them no matter how big of jerks they may be. He gives us a group of dysfunctional slacker super-people, with all their attendant neuroses and psychoses, kinda like a naughtier and smarter X-Statix or Legion, in a story which is really one long running gag with multiple storylines converging at the big Wednesday Team Tryout, where super-guys and gals hope to impress the S*F's enough to be allowed to join. I had a large time reading Superf*ckers; and if you like to see the spandex set sent up but not torn apart, or are a Kochalka fan in the first place, you'll love this, I think. It's better than anything that saw print in Project: Superior, even Bryan O'Malley's great story. First thing I thought when I put it down was "Man- they oughtta let Kochalka write JLA. I'd buy it!" A
Top Shelf has rereleased the trade of the first Monkey Vs. Robot series, in a smaller size and with a new cover, and it's as much fun as the sequel, Crystal of Power. Fun and imaginative, yes, but there's also a sober little message at its base about overcoming differences and such. Still, though, it's monkeys! Fighting robots! What more could you ask? A
What more, you say? How about a music soundtrack? All-around renaissance guy Kochalka is also a working musician, and Rykodisc has just released a new best-of CD of songs by his band James Kochalka Superstar titled Our Most Beloved, and it's definitely an extension of his quirky illustration work. With titles like "Twinkle Twinkle Ringo Starr" and "Neigh-Neigh & Woo-Woo", the JKS come across like Wild Man Fischer fronting Alien Ant Farm, or Space Ghost's Musical Barbecue. It's a hoot and a half, and while it's best listened to in short stretches, everybody out there in search of a laff or three should consider checking this out.