Man vs Rock
by Victor Detroy, Kevin Beiber & Jared Lamp
Self-published [available online]
Colour / $19.99 for v1-4 TPB
Review by Tom Mortimer
Man vs Rock by Victor Detroy, Kevin Beiber and Jared Lamp (also recently joined by colourist Summer Fitzgerald), is the story of a crazed man saving a crazed world from the lethal, imminent, threat of a rock uprising. Yes, rocks. As in, the large pebble variety.
If that setup doesn’t immediately suggest that this book may not be a beacon of moral virtue, then you may be convinced by the hidden warning tucked neatly into the beginning of each volume’s copyright section: “if you find offensive things to be offensive, this book is not for you”.
The extremity of this work clearly separates the narrative from the real world or any aggressive attack on a particular group of people, opting instead to target everyone, like a rabid pooch. Before I really get into the meat and bones of the review, I want to make it clear that if you still feel it might upset you, then be advised: read no further.
Man vs Rock is like a love ballad to the action film genre, violently vocalising its affection for the through an epic appropriation of every fault and cliché present within those movies. Even if you strip away all of the bombast, there’s something so comically bizarre about humans going to war with an inanimate object. How does one approach that, if not by hurling your characters at it, full velocity?
Likewise, there’s something aggressively welcoming about the teenage angst of the illustrations here. Combined with its manic plot, Man vs Rock binds itself into an anarchy of the old ‘underground comix’ and the idea of ‘trash’ media – something that doesn’t try to be above everything but instead rolls around in the caricatures of the devalued culture it’s been dumped in with, and embraces the freedom of this ‘lower status’ to get away with what it likes.
Sometimes, poor taste offers rich pickings. The idea here is great, and has so far covered four action-packed issues. I don’t really know where it’s going, I must admit. The narrative doesn’t seem to progress too much over the volumes, but what it does deliver it does so with consistency – and considering pretty much every scenario descends into absolute chaotic madness, that’s a tough fire to keep fuelled and tamed. For all it’s toying with an amateur aesthetic, there’s a lot of craft behind this book.
Ultimately, as comics shift from what was a largely socially rejected passion into a marketable mainstream platform under ‘geek culture’, or an increasingly appreciated ‘respectable’ medium via ‘graphic novels’, they offer ever expanding worlds – with new explorations, developments and responsibilities. But Man vs Rock, is one of those publications that brings it all back into the subcultural closets, perhaps with a pinch of nostalgia to boot.
They also take a jab at the British Royal Family. So a part of me feels a patriotic obligation to endorse it.