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Brainstorm Comix 3
 
excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 3
total score 8
Brainstorm Comix Vol. 2 #1
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Brainstorm Comix #3

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Only Printing / Spring, 1977 / 36 Pages / Alchemy Publications

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Near Myths
AVERAGE SCORE 6
In the fourth issue of Brainstorm Comix (actually numbered 3 for reasons summarized in the series overview), Bryan Talbot completes his Chester P. Hackenbush trilogy with "A Streetcar Named Delirium." Like the previous two chapters of the saga, this chapter dominates the book with 23 pages of content, and every page is worth savoring.

As in the previous two chapters, the story opens with Chester at home (a small cinderblock castle with a slat-and-beam wood ceiling and arched windows) with his omniscient wingless parrot, Polly. It's time for Chester to go on another cosmic adventure, but this will be his final foray into the hallucinatory fantasy world of his drug-addled mind. His destination is the Empire of Euphoria, where the "knights of hallucination" have gathered to send Chester on a quest to defeat Nastro the Abominable and his mind vampires. Nastro is threatening to destroy the empire and, concurrently, cause Chester to "completely freak out."

Chester travels with Polly (actually, mounted on Polly) to the distant city of Nastropolis and the Ziggurat of Cinnamon, where Nastro and his mind vampires are in hiding. Polly must abandon her companion for the final leg of his journey, but Chester bravely sneaks into the Ziggurat of Cinnamon and confronts the powerful Nastro. Chester creates enough distraction for Nastro that the evil demon's psychic shields are temporarily disabled, enabling the empire's secret weapon, Vortigern, to attack and destroy Nastro and his mind vampires.

The saga ends with Chester back at his humble castle, where he learns his entire adventure took place in the span of 12 hours after he first ingested his experimental hallucinogen. Polly is nowhere to be found, but Chester is rather philosophical about his solitude and even ponders the potential marketability of his extraordinary drug compound.

"Chester P. Hackenbush, The Psychedelic Alchemist" is a well-structured and imaginatively illustrated story that cemented Talbot's significant presence in the field of comic-book storytelling. He went on to produce "The Adventures of Luther Arkwright" (and the sequel Heart of Empire), The Tale of One Bad Rat (a story about child abuse), and Alice in Sunderland (a mythical chronicle loosely based on Lewis Carroll). Talbot also worked for DC Comics on Hellblazer, Sandman and Batman.


Given Talbot's illustrious history, it's interesting to read the editorial on the inside front cover by Lee Harris, who helped launch Talbot's award-winning career. Harris provides details about Talbot approaching him with the first chapter of the Hackenbush story and the subsequent effort to get it printed.

Brainstorm Comix #3 (yes, for the last time, actually #4 in historical context) also features Mal Burns' Graphic Eye column, which mentions dozens of important contemporaneous publications available in Britain. Burns also provides "A Decade of British Comix, A Short Guide for Consumers," which lists all the native underground comic books he could compile from the first decade of the British era.

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keyline
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HISTORICAL FOOTNOTES:
It is currently unknown how many copies of this comic book were printed, but Alchemy Productions printed about 10,000 copies of the second issue, so the presumption would be the volume was similar for this issue. It has not been reprinted.
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COMIC CREATORS:

Bryan Talbot - 1, 3-14, 16-18, 20-27, 34 (logo), 35 (ad), 36
Mal Burns - (editor) 28-29 (text)
Lee Harris - 2 (editorial)
Alecks Waszynko (aka Bonk) - 30-31