Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 03.02.2011 – Axe Cop Bad Guy Earth #1

What did the
iFanboy
community think?

193
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.4
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 2.0%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
Writer: Malachai Nicolle
Penciller: Ethan Nicolle

Size: 32 pages
Price: 3.50

What is a comic book? Well, it can be anything. It can be any kind of story, and more often than not, the creators of comics decide that the best use of the medium is to take advantage of the absolute freedom the form provides and they try to stuff as many pages as possible full of outlandish ideas and insane bursts of imagination. But the problem is that with the amount of comics a lot of us read, in addition to whatever stories, real or imagined, that you’re taking in, it’s getting harder and harder to read something that doesn’t feel like you’ve read it before. Comic publishers are scrambling to find the next big thing, and the next mind that will change the way we view the form, and step up to fill the shoes of Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Alan Moore, Frank Miller, and Grant Morrison.

Enter Malachai Nicolle, age 6.

I’ll grant you that it’s a marketing gimmick to continually harp on the fact that this comic was written by a six year old. Then again, this comic book was written by a six year old. As a person who has written extensively about trying to make comics, and spent a whole lot of time contemplating the form, and the best way to utilize comics to tell stories, I am surprised as you are to find myself writing this. But the fact is, of all the comics I read this week, Axe Cop Bad Guy Earth  #1 was easily the most interesting of them all. The short story is that Ethan Nicolle was visiting home for Christmas and starting drawing his little brother’s stories as a way to pass the time. They were posted on the web, and recently collected by Dark Horse Comics. For more, go read our interview with Ethan Nicolle. This issue is a new story, published for the first time in comic book form. To put it simply, it is the unfettered ramblings of the imagination of a six year old, and there is obviously something magical about that, especially when compared to all these other books, where competent, experienced professionals are trying to accomplish the same thing. Instead, this child and his brother distill it into pages that inexplicably delighted me.

As you can imagine, the plots are not complicated. There is a Axe Cop, who is a cop with an axe. It turns out that real cops don’t like him. But he’s got his sidekick Dinosaur Soldier, and a desire to do the right thing. A mysterious planet shows up, and Axe Cop decides it needs to be exploded. If only the real cops and the army would let him do that. So he bombs them. But it’s just a just a faint bomb, which are for dumb good guys. Then he calls in Wexter, a T-Rex with gatling gun arms and aviator glasses to get the army out of the way. It goes on like this. We meet Uni-Man, a sort of Q to Axe Cop’s Bond, and a Good Guy Machine, that turns bad guys into good guys, creating Hand-Cuff Man, who throws handcuffs and bad guys, and they shock them until they’re dead.

I’ll be honest, I’m a little jealous. This comic book is pure imagination, unconstrained by the things that hold adults back, and by all accounts it should not work, and an educated and discerning reader such as myself should rightly scoff, but I did not scoff. I laughed, and was impressed.

Certainly credit must go to older brother Ethan Nicolle for translating and harnessing the ramblings of a mad genius child, and putting them on a page. The artwork is both competent, but also has some of that childlike quality to go along with the words and ideas it’s depicting. It sort of reminds me of the tone and style of early Adult Swim, as an explosion of imaginative id, meant to satisfy the most basic of our desires for entertainment. At the same time, what artist wouldn’t be excited about getting a chance to draw all the crazy stuff the kid is coming up with. Dinosaurs, monster trucks, and killer chicken brains are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s certainly a reason to want to get out of bed in the morning and draw.

It’s not all about deep meaning and subtext. Sometimes, it’s about whatever crazy bits of our minds can be captured and transformed into comic books. I’m far from the first person to recognize the special alchemy in Axe Cop, but even so, I was surprised to find myself enjoying it, and actually laughing out loud, not in a “oh that’s so cute” sort of way, but in a completely genuine enjoyment of the ideas in front of me. It’s not for everyone, and it’s certainly not all I want from a comic book, but as part of a balanced storytelling diet, there aren’t a lot of things more fun and more pure than Axe Cop. Let a kid show you what fun it was to be a kid.

 

Josh Flanagan
Axe Cop got frustrated and took his daily two-minute nap.
josh@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. my shop was all sold out of this! now i have to go to the “other shop” in town. creeps. well from the sound of this review it will be well worth it. awesome review as always josh, missed you on the show last week

  2. Jeff Reid (@JeffRReid) says:

    I absolutely loved the trade that came out a while ago. Josh, you’re completely right about being surprised by the lack of irony in my enjoyment of these stories. My reaction to these stories was the same. I’m so glad to hear that this mini appears to do more of what I liked about the originals.

  3. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    This book was SO much fun to read. Just joyous stuff. The splashes with Wexler, the gun-armed T-rex? Just spectacular. 

  4. “There is a Axe Cop, who is a cop with an axe. It turns out that real cops don’t like him. But he’s got his sidekick Dinosaur Soldier, and a desire to do the right thing. A mysterious planet shows up, and Axe Cop decides it needs to be exploded. If only the real cops and the army would let him do that. So he bombs them. But it’s just a just a faint bomb, which are for dumb good guys. Then he calls in Wexter, a T-Rex with gatling gun arms and aviator glasses to get the army out of the way. It goes on like this. We meet Uni-Man, a sort of Q to Axe Cop’s Bond, and a Good Guy Machine, that turns bad guys into good guys, creating Hand-Cuff Man, who throws handcuffs and bad guys, and they shock them until they’re dead.”

    That sounds like a Grant Morrison comic right there. 😉 Exactly. 

    My 8 year old cousin has drawn and written about 60 pages of original comics so far.  His comics also read like Grant Morrison superhero comics.  Fun stuff.

  5. This youtube video has their process. It’s really interesting. I am gonna pick this up tonight. Hopefully there is one at my LCS.

    Axe Cop Creators

  6. 2011 is the year Josh loves and embraces fun.

  7. This is the greatest Pick of the Week since Sea Bear and Grizzly Shark.

  8. @willcrimson  it’s okay to hate fun when your opinion is objective fact and the world just doesn’t understand you

  9. @SomeCreepyDude  What does that mean?

  10. A few weeks ago, I bought the Axe Cop trade that came out, and felt very similarly about the first 30 pages or so–wild, imaginitive, funny, weird, fun.  But after another 30 or so pages, the joke wore thin for me.  I certainly can’t fault a 6 year old for lacking focus or logic in his storytelling, and obviously that’s part of the charm, but after getting halfway through the trade I lost interest.  I was curious whether the miniseries format implied just a little more structure and focus to the story, but it sounds like that’s not gonna happen 🙂  Glad others are enjoying it, but this is probably not my cup of tea.

  11. Called it! Bu-bu-bu-BOOYAH!

  12. This looks crazy- maybe I’ll head back to the shop tomorrow.

    Sorry if this is bad taste to reference last week’s POTW, but I just got the last FF after listening to the podcast. Holy crap, it’s amazing. Can someone tell me when the current Hickman run started so that I can go and find them? 

  13. It was fun to read online when it first came out. Then, as @mrlogical said, it sort of got tiring. I just don’t think it would be getting this hype or praise if an adult had written it rather than a little kid.

  14. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @einstein399  That’s a nonstarter though. An adult wouldn’t and maybe couldn’t write like this. 

  15. It is amazing.

  16. I almost blew this off; you got to me in the nick of time.

  17. @mrlogical  I agree, this sounds like it’s something not a whole lot of people would like. If those who pick it up like it, well and good for them. It seems to cater to a niche audience within the niche that is the comic book community.

  18. takio and axe cop should have coffee together since their made by kids, im going to my 5 year old for a idea for a comic book

  19. I’m guessing this isn’t available digitally?  My shop didn’t get a copy (broken record).

  20. They didn’t have this at my shop, but I’m intrigued enough to take a look at the trade that’s out now and maybe cruise the web for it.  It sounds like a good time.

  21. The web-comic was amazing.  I’ll be making an effort to pick this one up.

  22. It has charm and certainly is fun. Let’s hope that it doesn’t end “Then they woke up and it was all a dream…”

  23. This was rad. I wasn’t planning on getting it until I saw it in iFanboy’s Light Week column, and I’m glad I gave it a chance. As an employee at my shop said, you should pick this book up if you like JOY.

  24. Going to wait on the trade and pick both up at that time.  Then, I will be WINNING!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iz2dPiEgigY

  25. Does Hickman know you picked something he didn’t write? I thought we were going to suspend POTW’s until he had something new on the stands.

    Good pick.

  26. going to pick this up tomorrow, curiosity has got the better of my comics budget!

  27. @PaulMontgomery  maybe grant morrison wrote it as a hobby(im kidding) really if bendis 8 year old daughter can help in make a comic, maybe a six year old did it idkits really really hard to get a comicbook published yet ax cop did it i dont buy it, i need more proof

  28. Comic Book of the YEAR! Seriously, I was laughing out loud. Some of the jokes in this are too funny.

    “He dreamt about a t. Rex…that was crying.”

  29. Not that I ever thought of passing it by, but I am so so so glad I picked this up! Ethan’s art has gotten so great an the color makes it that much better! This was easily the most delightful comic of this young year for me.

  30. With all the (understandable) “look, a 6 year old wrote this”-hype, it’s easy to overlook that the artwork is pretty damn good.

  31. Dang! I’m kicking myself for not seeing this and trying it because I did not know it was written by a kid. It would have been interesting to see what i would have made of this without that knowledge.

    This is a great review and you do very briefly mention this but I’ll ask the question anyway for the sake of discussion: Does this work if it’s not a kid who wrote it?

    I have all sorts of other questions.

    Is the kid getting paid?
    Does this mean our current traditonal principles of writing should be re-thought?
    What happens when the kid has grown up?
    Would this book be considered all-ages?

    This book opens a can of very scary worms. I’m reminded of this documentary.

    Very interesting discussion.

  32. excellent pick josh.

  33. It’s so funny, when I saw the line-up for this week’s books, I said “If Ron had POTW, this would TOTALLY be the pick.” I just had this sound in my brain of Ron cracking up while describing this book, the way he does when talking about X-Men Forever. Glad to see it got the nod anyway. It’s great to see a refreshing concept in comics that people seem to be loving. 

  34. @JNewcomb  That movie was fantastic and you bring up some very valid points.

  35. What does this say about the current (this week at least) quality of comic book work being done?

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