Thursday Comics Hangover: Product of the 80s

Early in Sexcastle, a random goon threatens Shane Sexcastle by asking, "You ever hear the phrase 'You brought a knife to a gun fight?'"

Sexcastle responds, "This is worse than that. You brought a you to a me fight."

Sexcastle was first published almost two years ago, but it had escaped my attention until the good folks at Phoenix Comics turned me on to it last night. I was interested in an upcoming comic called Rock Candy Mountain about a hobo’s epic journey by a cartoonist named Kyle Starks, and they happened to have his first book in stock. It’s pretty fantastic.

Shane Sexcastle, the star of Sexcastle, is basically the protagonist of the world’s biggest 80s action movie — Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse blended with Kurt Russell in Big Trouble in Little China, and then garnished with basically everyone who ever starred in an Expendables movie. He’s trying to start a new life working for a single mom florist, but he keeps getting pulled back in to a circle of violence.

Sexcastle is not especially witty. It’s a comedy that revels in the over-the-top violence of 80s action movies, but it doesn’t have the slyness or the critical eye of, say, Punch to Kill. It’s a fan’s celebration of a particular genre, and though Starks is a brilliant cartoonist — he can squeeze more action onto a single page than most Marvel Comics artists can fit into a single issue, and he can make it easier to follow besides — he’s not especially complex with the writing.

And that’s okay. Sexcastle doesn’t need to be deep. It’s funny and it’s imaginative and it’s expertly put together. On an otherwise slow week at the comics shop, that’s more than enough to win my allegiance.