Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Writer: Matt Miner
Artist: Sean Von Gorman
Release Date: 15th April, 2015
Black Mask’s glorious middle finger to the homophobes, racists and bigots of the world ends in emphatic fashion here as our band of zombified punk rock misfits finally get their eagerly awaited showdown with the Westboro Baptist Church.
Once again, writer Matt Miner throws subtlety out the window here as he presents some hilarious caricatures of the WBC, and gleefully relishes in their inevitable downfall. Okay, so – once again – those looking for depth or nuance are definitely going home disappointed, but readers looking for some giddy, gratuitous, LGBT-positive escapism are in for an absolute treat. Personally I’d have liked to see a little more meat to the series in terms of the development of the main characters themselves, but I’ve resigned myself by this point to the fact that it’s simply not that kind of comic.
Sean Von Gorman’s artwork remains noticeably rough around the edges, but this style continues to actually enhance the edgy, middle-finger waving ethos of the series. This definitely isn’t a book that would react well to a polished, detailed approach, so SVG’s scratchy, over the top visuals are very much in keeping with punk rock aesthetic the creators are going for.
There’s a fairly strong message at the heart of this series, and it’s one that’s difficult not to get on board with: There are a lot of truly reprehensible, bigoted, prejudiced people in this world, and the vast majority of them would benefit greatly from being torn apart by a wise-cracking band of punk rock zombies. Words to live by, I’m sure you’ll agree.
As a comic, it’s undeniably a little hit or miss, but as a statement, it hits the mark like a bayonet-adorned guitar to the temple. Black Mask Studios take great pride in their mission statement of backing comics that other publishers wouldn’t necessarily look twice at, and Toe Tag Riot is living, breathing proof of that. Subversive, transgressive and filled with raw passion, this is a series that wears its heart on its sleeve, and in today’s increasingly sterile, cookie-cutter world of comics, that’s something to be truly admired.