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inner city romance 3
excellent writing
masterpiece art
historical bonus 2
total score 9
Inner City Romance #3
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Only Printing / 1977 / 36 pages / Last Gasp Eco-Funnies
The third issue of Inner City Romance is perhaps the best of Guy Colwell's comic work in the '70s; it is certainly his most exquisitely illustrated. As Colwell stated in his autobiography Central Body, The Art of Guy Colwell, "I lavished more dense and intricate detail on the pages of this book than any other." The book also offers Colwell's most erotic comics to date, though they are couched in the dreams of hardened prisoners who seek to escape all confinement of their bodies, minds and souls.

The first panel of the book is an intricate ink rendering of the same scene portrayed in oil paint on the front cover, depicting a black man escaping a prison and running towards the edge of a concrete jungle. In a surreal sequence, the man finds his way to the city, reunites with his woman, and circles back to the prison to break out his brothers and sisters, leading to a deadly exchange of gunfire with the guards. Just as his brain is getting blown to pieces, he awakens from his dream to find himself still in prison, sharing the same barred chamber he has shared with his cell mate for years. His awakening interrupts the sleep of his cell mate, who gently coaxes him back to slumber.

But the cell mate then slips into a dream of his own, where he is also busting out of prison, only to encounter a different, more earthly mode of entrapment. He suffers through a debilitating phase of captivity before being cast out at the feet of a mysterious, beautiful woman who offers him a chance at true freedom. She guides him through a post-apocalyptic city to a garden of delight, where they are free to frolic naked and play amongst the lush flora. They soon retreat into the soft underbelly of the forest, aching to consummate their passion....

But the cell mate's erotic dream is rudely interrupted by the sharp clanging of the morning bell in the prison hall, snapping all prisoners awake for the start of another miserable day.

Except for one man in another cell down the hall, who ignores the ringing bell and falls back into a catnap that launches a dream of his own. He stands alone in a building of tiled floors and walls until he peers around a corner and discovers three alluring young women lounging in a small pool of water. The man becomes sexually aroused as he approaches the women in the pool, who welcome him with open lips and legs. At first he engages all three women in sex, but then he's having sex with only one of them in a tiled prison cell. And then the three women are forcefully taken away by several other men, who proceed to gang rape him on the floor.

This convict's fantasy-turned-nightmare is abruptly halted by a prison guard who screams at him to wake up and get to work, bringing the book to an equally abrupt conclusion.

Inner City Romance #3 does not deliver the sociopolitical drama or realism of the first two books in the series, but it is a mesmerizing peek into the subconscious of the three prisoners Colwell deems to expose in this story. In his aforementioned book, Colwell states that this comic allowed him to "explore both social and personal issues in a way that was engaging visually yet thought-provoking politically." I'm not sure what thoughts this book provokes within a political realm, but I guess I could come up with some shit if pressed.

I'm more likely to pontificate about the psychosexual theories Colwell explores in illustrating the details of these men's dreams. This type of investigation is similar to the profound analysis of male sexuality Colwell delivered over a decade later in his terrific trilogy, Doll. This book does not examine the topic with the same depth or breadth of Doll, but it does probe a specific corner of that field with very personal insight.
Last Gasp printed approximately 10,000 copies of this comic book. It has not been reprinted.
Guy Colwell - 1-36