The Auteur ain’t your grandpa’s comic. Or your little sister’s, for that matter. Or little brother’s. You should probably rule out mom or dad, too. Really any member of the family (unless you’re the weird kind of person that watches Game of Thrones with their family and doesn’t find an excuse to leave the room the moment someone enters a whorehouse). What I’m saying is that this comic is gross. Downright disgusting even. It’s crude, tasteless, overly-violent, misogynistic, and maybe even a little bit racist.
But it’s also the funniest goddamn thing I’ve read in years.
To recap the story so far for those of you who forgot (or for those of you who aren’t reading this comic, which, by the look of last month’s numbers for The Auteur #3, is all of you): Nathan T. Rex, either film producer extraordinaire or blight against humanity depending on who you ask, is having a crisis on the set of his latest movie, Presidents Day (a slasher about a serial killer who dons the mask of famous American presidents to commit brutal killings with an axe). It’s under-budget, behind schedule, and worst of all his star, an actual murderer named Darwin, has just chopped the leading lady to actual bits on camera!
The Auteur #4 picks up with Rex in emotional shambles, trying to atone for the sin of catching such a horrible act on film. His solution? Redo the film entirely from the ground up as something that is that antithesis of violence and murder, instead of the gory glorification it was intended to be. In Rex’s own words “Presidents Day is now a motherfucking ROMANCE!”
Comedic timing is notoriously hard to pin down in mediums where the consumer dictates the pace, like in books or comics, but writer Rick Spears and artist James Callahan have excellent chemistry on the page. One scene in particular, where the blossoming relationship of two characters in the film is juxtaposed with Rex’s repeated failures to woo the woman of his perverted dreams, is executed fantastically. There are also a lot of laughs to be had at the expense of other members of the crew, especially the overly arrogant director who battles over creative control of the film with Rex and the Shakespeare-esque screenwriter who has written and rewritten so many drafts for Presidents Day that he attempts suicide when charged with penning another.
If you couldn’t already tell, this comic is a bit off the rails, but it never goes too far because of two things: distance and style. Nathan T. Rex is a despicable protagonist, but he’s so cartoonishly over the top that it makes both his crackpot schemes and his colossal failures all the more hilarious because of the distance we, the audience, have from his actions. And the irreverent style of the writing and especially the bizarre but brilliant art make The Auteur’s more nauseating pages just palatable enough to work. Now please, PLEASE, buy this comic before Oni Press cancels the shit out of it. We don’t get works of genius like this too often.