Prison Pit: Book 2
Johnny Ryan, writer/artist
Fantagraphics, July 2010
“OPERATION: RAPE LADYDACTYL. BEGIN.”
It wasn’t until I read those words on the screen of a computer operated by a robotic antagonist of Prison Pit‘s main character Cannibal Fuckface that I realized just how far Johnny Ryan was going to go with this series. Obviously it was already beyond violent; obviously it was already beyond sexually vulgar as well, what with Volume One’s maggot-fellatio fade-out. Obviously Volume Two was already filled to bursting with literally nauseating body-horror transformations and mutilations brought to life (and death) by Ryan’s never better, never nastier pen art. But an extended sequence in which our anti-hero is forced against his will to hunt down, attack, maim, and graphically rape-murder a creature that’s distinctly female even for all its monstrousness, one that screams in agony…for the first time I realized that Prison Pit isn’t a fusion-comics exploration of awesomeness in all its forms, but a horror-comics exploration of awfulness–of violence that maims and kills not just body but soul. Ryan is willing, even this early in a series I imagine will be able to last as long as he wants it to, to completely invert his instantly-iconic warrior, to make the audience root against him desperately, to feel dick-shriveling revulsion at his violence and pity for his victim. “That fucking sucked,” CF says when it’s all over. Understatement of the year. This book is a masterpiece of awfulness.