Staff Pick: Venom #2

Meeting Venom #2 (2015) for the first time was a chance coincidence. I was supposed to meet a friend at the Toronto Reference Library for this massive book sale. I was an hour early or she was running an hour late (she was actually running an hour late, but I don’t want to throw her completely under the bus in a staff pick. That wouldn’t be nice). In either case, I had time to kill. As one does when the always seductive Page and Panel is in sight, I went inside. Like a kid in a candy shop, I was gone.

Past the displays, posters, and merchandise lived a beaten-up cardboard box. It caught my attention. The boxed had an assortment of zines and postcards and that is where I found Venom.

This zine borrows from the framework of a classic Marvel comic. Classic pose (a lunging, bulging, HYPER-masculine character). Classic title (Venom— it doesn’t get more Marvel than that). A parody of a classic storyline (Eddie Brock, or Venom, struggles to keep up with the always perfect Peter Parker). What makes this version of Venom different is the departure in art and composition.

It’s Venom, but seen through the lens of whimsical, somewhat jaded adults mimicking the motor skills of a 4 year old and a fragmentary vision of the world. The mismatch of tone (sarcastic, cheeky, and intelligent) with style (naïve, doopy, lopsided) creates a really compelling and all too short zine.

I have one page I especially love. The artist drew three floppy smiley face and then loosely scribbled them out with a full-bodied marker. At the very bottom of the page, they wrote a really miserable looking “Marvel.com.” The team at Marvel have tears of joy and pride in their eyes just looking at this. And the absolute cherry on the cake is this little egg dude at the bottom who has two sticks for legs and a very vapid expression. He is labelled: bug.

Seriously, what is this? Why make art after this? Is there a point? Can we ever match this beauty and greatness? I doubt it.

And part of the beauty of this find what it was or who authored it. I asked Broken Pencil’s editor Jonathan, who asked his friend Alex Hoffman from the Beguiling, who tells him, who then tells me, just who is behind this.  “Those are jam comics!” the friend identifies, “Michael DeForge, Mickey Zacchilli and Patrick Kyle” while also noting that for this particular zine, any number of partnership combinations (because was it 2 or 3 that worked together on this? And which 2 or 3?) could have birthed Venom #2.  

Now, there are still a few open mysteries left unsolved, like what happened to Venom #1, and is there a Venom #3?

If you’re intrigued, it turns out that Mickey sells Venom #2 online at: http://pricetapes.storenvy.com/products

(Jean Mathew)

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