The Chunky Gnars: A Chocolate Gun Tribute
Chris Cornwell, writer/artist
PictureBox Inc., October 2007
Like Paul Pope’s cover version of the first issue of Jack Kirby’s OMAC from his issue of Solo and Josh Simmons’s unauthorized Batman-as-psychopath minicomic Batman, Chris Cornwell’s Chunky Gnars mines the fertile vein of another creator’s work, in this case Frank Santoro & Ben Jones’s wondrous drug-teen-rock-action opus Cold Heat. I think these kinds of call-and-response comics can really tease out what works and doesn’t work in the original and be an extremely enlightening exercise for the responder.
In this case, Cornwell doesn’t quite hit the heights that the originators do, but to be fair that doesn’t seem like his intent–his goal is playing up the mixed-genre nature of Cold Heat for humorous effect, like having a rock-star-slash-assassin and an evil senator piloting a giant robot minotaur. Some of those moments are very funny, in fact, if a little catchphrasey–“I don’t start killin’…TILL I’M DONE ROCKIN’!!” shots the hipster assassin when the senator tries to get him to skip the encore and start the massacre. Better still is Cornwell’s funny-because-it’s-true depiction of the senator’s absurd, obliviously prurient fixation on the supposed evil of popular culture: Beads of sweat running down his bald head (which has suddenly been isolated against an oozing abstract background), he kicks off a test run of his latest speech with the immortal opener “We have become a nation that worships the rectum,” before his assistant unceremoniously cuts this reverie off.
While the whole thing doesn’t exactly cohere nor rise to the level of its inspiration, it does contain some gaze-worthy art that is at alternating times reminiscent of Santoro, Brian Chippendale, and in the second of its four title panels Beto Hernandez. Mostly it exists as a testament to how fired up Cold Heat has people, which is valuable in and of itself.