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07 May 2008

Michael Klopner's WONDERFUL SUMMER

Wonderful Summer by Michael Klopner
klopner94@aol.com
24 pages. Black and white with color cover. Magazine sized. 8 1/2 x 11 inches.

I've been aware of Klopner's comics for a while and I really like his stuff. I've previously covered his comics in my reviews of Shiot Crock 11 and 13. His entry in SC 11 was a superhero parody with some interesting erotic elements but it was his relationship based stuff in SC 13 that made me a fan. This book is a magazine sized mini and the format works well with Klopner's art. Klopner uses big thick blacks and around twelve panels per page so I couldn't imagine this stuff looking that great at a smaller size without breaking up the panels and thus breaking up the pacing.

Wonderful Summer contains a fair deal of relationship based stuff similar to the True Candy strips I liked so much in SC13 but the book as a whole is mixed bag. The book is made up of five stories and some filler. If there is a unifying theme it is nihilistic characters embracing and reveling in a lurid world. Even the most amicable characters in the book express an interest violence and perversion.

The first story, Blood Brothers, is a hard case crime noir super hero punk mash up kind of thing. It has a neat juxtaposition of styles with the detective being drawn thick and sleek and the costumed baddies being quite gritty but the story is the least imaginative of the book.

The next item is a one pager called Blue Thong that cuts right to the chase with sex in the first panel. (Sampled above. Well, minus the first panel.) This is more representative of the almost instant character development Klopner is capable of. Right away you feel you know these characters and their background. It also exemplifies that wet lurid inking style I like in Kopner's comics.


The next few pieces, Frankensteins & Mirrors, Dark Coitus and Charlotte are underground rawness meets rockabilly meets post modern punk nihilism. (Don't you just hate reviews where the writer can't think of the words to describe something so they say it's one thing "meets" another thing? Me too.) These stories deal with some very depraved yet believable characters and their extreme sexual fetishes. They are right on the brink of being over the top but Klopner's dialog and humor hold it together. Charlotte is the most ambitious of the these stories. It is a Twilight Zone kind of story about a pedophile haunted by one of his victims. The twist is that the ghost does not want revenge but instead wants a playmate. It is sick and twisted yet clever and Klopner manages to pull it off as a complete story in just eight pages.

(Click the image to enlarge. Seriously, it's a really nice page.)

The last piece in the book is a three pager called Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows. This is my favorite piece in the book. This is another story where we start with sex in panel one but it is the most positive and least violent story in the book. It's not much more than a simple day in the life of two young lovers but it's packed with all the elements I like so much in Klopner's comics; the thick wet inks, bold character design, a sexy femme fatale, rock references, clever dialog, racy pillow talk... but this short tale also allows the characters to show some vulnerability and depth not present in the rest of the book. In this story, the most dangerous element is not sex or violence but the two characters feelings for each other. The drawing and page layouts in this story are very nice and once again, Klopner manages to cover a lot of space in a few pages. I would gladly buy a big thick book of this kind of material and I hope he is working on more stories like it.
Your best pal ever,
Shannon Smith
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