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hyper comics
solid writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 2
total score 7
Hyper Comics
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fear and laughter

Fear and Laughter

Only Printing / March, 1979 / 36 pages / Kitchen Sink
Steve Stiles has sustained a long career in comics, starting with fanzine work in the '50s and selling his first professional cartoon to Paul Krassner at The Realist, then producing a strip for one of the Gothic Blimp Works. After getting drafted into the military (where he worked as an illustrator) Stiles ventured into advertising when he returned to civilian life. In 1975, he began full time as a freelance cartoonist, working as a ghost penciller for Marvel Comics and contributing a lot of comics to a variety of Kitchen Sink's underground anthologies (Snarf, Bizarre Sex, Dope Comix).

Hyper Comics is Stiles only one-man comic, and his exceptional illustration skills are on display throughout. The book gets off to a solid start with a funny inside front cover cartoon followed by a one-page introduction starring the artist. The first real story, "No Survivors!" introduces us to Abrey Spittle, "the meanest sonuvabitch today!" Abrey witnesses the downfall of ethics and normalcy in human society and hides away in a bomb shelter. Sure enough, Lithuania soon begins a nuclear war which inexplicably leads to the Earth exploding into pieces, casting Abrey and his bomb shelter across the galaxy and into a black hole. "No Survivors!" is quite entertaining and leaves the door open for Abrey's revival, which will eventually occur.

A few pages later, Stiles delivers the 12-page "Dancin' on the Fault Line!" It's an ambitious adventure starring Mr. Smile, a man with a "happy face button" head, who has a turbulent love relationship but soon discovers he is God, which leads him to become a rock star and eventually President of the United States. The story has pretty good pace and is funny in places, though it confused me a couple times with seemingly incongruous transitions or writing that just missed the mark.

There's a few other one-pagers and short features in the book that don't stand out, but overall Hyper Comics is a fairly solid book from a veteran creator. It has the look and feel of alternative comics that would come in waves some years later, so to some degree it heralds a future style.
Kitchen Sink printed approximately 10,000 copies of this comic book. It has not been reprinted.
Steve Stiles - 1-36