Brian Chippendale, writer/artist
self-published, January 2005
I forget how much it cost and can’t find a realistic price anywhere online
The other day I mentioned that Micrographica‘s casual quality did not mesh well with its presentation as a perfectbound graphic novella. Battlestack Galacti-crap, on the other hand, is exactly what it should be–a crazy little minicomic with a bright green-and-pink silkscreend cover and photocopied pages that look like they can barely contain the throwaway wildness they document.
The product of Fort Thunder alum/Lightning Bolt drummer/Ninja and Maggots author/Björk collaborator Brian Chippendale, its “story” is kind of like The Wire for three-year-olds: A group of gaudily costumed creatures called Gang Gloom has the bright idea to sell cheap cupcakes down on Stack Street, a move that the members of rival outfit Teamy Weamy don’t take kindly to. The resulting rumble, “of course,” ends up with all the participants stacked on top of each other in tangled-up tower of crazy creatures–apparently that’s how “any interaction on Stack Street always ends.”
Something about this minicomic tapped into a long-forgotten vein of surreal action-humor in my psyche. When I was a kid I seem to remember being fascinated by the idea of people/things being so stuck together they couldn’t move, yet not treating this like a crisis and simply chit-chatting with each other like it’s a minor inconvenience. (This seems like a Jim Henson kinda idea–was it from a Muppet movie?) Needless to say it’s a perfect fit with Chippendale’s method of choice for cartooning, which is to fill up as much of the page with visual information as he can, and the scenes of dozens of helmet and mask-wearing characters mashed together are appropriately sloppy and exuberant. But many of the characters get a chance to shine on either end of the action in the ersatz pin-up pages that kick off and conclude the story. In both cases the art provides the visual punch for Chippendale’s goofy sense of humor: The solo shots of the characters proposing the cupcake-selling idea grant an absurd sense of grandeur to the silly proceedings, while the suggestion by one guy at the bottom of the titular “battlestack” that another’s back injury might be cured by one of the recipes in his handy copy of Healing with Whole Foods reaches a Pythonesque level of comic incongruity. And then there’s that lovely page where someone yells “EVERYBODY OFF!” and the stack collapses in a dynamically lovely waterfall of falling bodies. Top to bottom, this minicomic is a miniature model of form fitting function.