Publisher: Image Comics
Story By: James Robinson
Art By: Greg Hinkle
Release Date: 3rd June, 2015
How do I review Airboy? Right now I’m still trying to work out of it’s a homage piece, or a blatant, yet tongue-in-cheek ‘Fuck You’ to the comics industry. I’m going to go with the first suggestion, but if it’s the latter then it’s done brilliantly. I’ll get this over with right now and say it: I think this is the best thing I’ve read this year. No lie.
When I picked this as my review issue this week I’d no idea what it was, just that it was an Image title (generally a safe bet), and it was the first of a four part series. It arrived in my dropbox at work and I had the quickest of scans at the title page and the first thing that popped into my head was ‘that looks like Dan Dare on the cover’, which I quickly filed under ‘dubious, yet possibly interesting.’
The Golden Age artwork on the cover had me assuming that this would be a fairly tame comic to review, I didn’t even register the rest of the cover until I opened the file on the train home. This is an Image title: I should have known better. Thinking this was a safe read was a rookie mistake, the first page is one panel of a guy, naked, on the throne taking a shit, and talking on his mobile. This guy is none other than the writer, James Robinson. I immediately fell in love with this comic.
On the second page he takes a pop at DC comics, Cully Hamner by page seven, and Greg Hinkle is a character in the story at page twelve. By page fourteen he’s shot down Grant Morrison (!), and –I think- Geoff Johns. You start to get the impression this is just two guys in the comic book industry ripping the absolute piss out of themselves and their chosen field while having a raucous time doing so, and it’s infectious. You can’t help but smile while reading through it, and there are a few ‘oh he didn’t just write that did he’ in there too.
Basically the premise of the story is that Eric Stephenson of Image comics asks James Robinson to reboot Airboy – an IP in the public domain from the Golden Age. Robinson accepts, but has complete writers block, so he decides to team up with an artist (Hinkle) to see if they can bounce ideas on one another. Cue one helluva bender involving drink, coke, horse tranquilisers, one very game female, and an unsettling anaconda. It’s the day after the night before and an idea appears in front of them.
I’m not going to say anymore lest I spoil the story, suffice to say I loved this comic from start to finish. Robinsons script flows from one debauched page to another taking pops at writers, artist and execs alike – I can almost see the comic book alumni at the next comic con high-fiving one another if they get a mention in this limited run. I’m positive I’ve probably missed a score of references to others.
This comic read like Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation script, but the NSFW version set in the comics’ world that’s way, way more fun. Hinkle uses a great two or three tone colour pallet throughout the issue, only varying the pallet from page to page and the artwork rocked my socks. The work is distinct, and having now been introduced to Hinkle’s style it’ll sit with me and I’m sure I’ll be able to spot his work anywhere – it’s just that good.
You need Airboy in your life.
The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.