As a kid I used to love ye olde red-blue 3D stuff. To let you know how much, I even used to collect 3D Dukes of Hazzard comics out of Honey Combs cereal boxes, and as some of you may know, I fucking hate Dukes of Hazzard. That said, the only 3D movie I’ve ever seen was a short at Disney World pre-Captain Eo. I’ve never seen any of the new fangled ones there’s been such a spate of recently.
Anyway, a while back I happened to end up buying one or two 3D comics close together and suddenly decided: “Hey, I’m gonna start collecting these!” Makes no sense, I know, and after buying one or two more, I realized that myself. Not only is it a stupid idea to begin with, I wear reading glasses, so there’s no comfortable way of reading these things, especially considering they tend to come stapled with kid-sized 3D glasses even if they have adult content!
So, please note that all these reviews begin with the assumption that 3D is a crappy gimick distraction.
(by various. The 3-D Zone, 1992)
First off, great cover by the legendary Robert Williams.
This is the only “underground” 3D comic that I know of. Getting Ray Zone to convert your comic into 3D must be a process beyond the financial means of most underground cartoonists, so I’d love to know what the story was behind this.
Like all good undergrounds, this comic features a mix of stories and pin-ups, and one pre-Code Golden Age reprint (“The Obi Makes Jumbee”), all mostly zombie-themed, plus S. Clay Wilson’s “Rotting Zombie Madonna“ on the inside back cover. The pinups and one 2-pager are by “XNO.” Who is this guy, I have no idea, but I think I’ve seen him credited in Weirdo as well. The longest piece is by “The Pizz” who I’ve never seen before, but is a pretty good cartoonist.
I don’t have much to say about any of the stories here, but that’s a good thing. In general, the 3D effect combined with having to wear the glasses is so distracting, it’s hard to stay focused on any story in a 3D comic. But here the underground aesthetic proves a good match for 3D since there is less concern with “narrative” and more on image-making and / or psychedelic visuals.
A very short read, but a neat book.
Mr. Monster’s Triple Threat 3-D
(by various. The 3-D Zone, 1993)
And this book takes it to an even further extreme.
Michael T. Gilbert writes in his introduction: “I decided to design a book consisting of classic splash pages, covers and pin-ups. Why? Because I love looking at 3-D comics without lots of tiny word balloons and captions!”
Indeed, there are pin-ups by lots of great artists in here, but it just doesn’t add up to anything — and I think the 3-D, while neat, actually distracts from the linework of people like Dave Stevens. (You see, story or art — 3D just can’t win!)
There is one sustained, wordless, 4-page story (another reprint) at the end that works quite well, and it made me wish Gilbert had done something else like it exclusively for this collection. Rather than just the 2-page framing sequence he’s added in.
Also note: a sure sign that this book came out in 1993 — a foil-embossed cover.
The 3-D Zone (No. 5) Presents Krazy Kat
(by George Herriman of course. The 3-D Zone, 1987)
This comic opens with a reprinting of e.e. cummings’s 1946 essay on Krazy Kat which is a nice treat.
The comic itself is a compilation of Sunday pages (except for the center spread), and I thought the 3D effect worked well for Krazy Kat. Like the undergrounds, Coconino ever-morphing dreamlike in the background is enhanced by the extra dimension, and Herriman’s dialog is still so demanding that you can’t help but still be sucked into the Krazy-Pup-Ignatz triangle no matter what the wacky 3D effects are doing.
I would say this comic is a decent supplement if you already have some Krazy in 2D, but it’s obviously not a substitute.
Clive Barker’s Seduth
(Story by Clive Barker & Chris Monfette, art by Gabriel Rodriguez, color by Jay Fotos. IDW, 2009)
Unlike the other comics I’ve reviewed here, this one is in color, and generally the colors look better with the glasses off. (They also have not 3Ded any of the lettering, so you actually can read all the text without the glasses.) That said, the 3D effects (still by Ray Zone, naturally) are better here than in the other books (20+ years of technology later). They seem to have gone for some more subtle effects in the layering and succeeded. This is also the only comic reviewed that actually came with adult-sized glasses.
I am a big Clive Barker fan and this is the first comic he’s written in many years. How much of the work was shared with Monfette, I don’t know, but there is lots of signature Barker here: painful bodily mutilation, sex with the grotesque, grotesque birth, mutilation to achieve transcendence, “hell” dimensions, and metaphysics compounding to the point of unintelligibility. Barker’s notes at the end (handwritten and mostly illegible) describe it as: “A Completely Nihilistic Story” so you should know for yourself whether or not this is something you want to read. Really, it’s probably too much for a 20-page comic.
As with Coconino County, the 3D is most effective when used to depict that psychotropic, hellish alien landscape. But the rest of the time, I found it annoying having to flip the glasses off every page to appreciate the colors
And now I’m going to go take two aspirin and have a nap.