1998: Oink: Blood and Circus

Oink: Blood and Circus (1998) #1-4 by John Mueller

This series starts right after the previous one ended, with no real attempt to reacquaint the reader with this world, but I think that works fine: It’s a pretty standard post-apocalyptic setting.

Mueller’s storytelling was pretty choppy in the first series, but here it’s buttery smooth: Everything is clear and concise. His various experiments with art styles have also ended, and he’s settled on rendering everything like this, which is a good choice, eh?

Heh heh. Well, that’s a surprising weapon! Don’t think I’ve seen that before.

The book doesn’t feel very satisfactory in other regards, though. The first series was all about Oink escaping from one society like this, and he’s plunged back into one that more or less the same, but with different details. It’s a bit “oh, this again?”

And the central gimmick here again is a cannibalistic society that again makes no sense whatsoever. They were living off of livestock, but that livestock died, so… they just started eating each other, apparently? Instead of eating whatever plants the livestock was eating? Or move away? There’s several cities in walking distance? It makes no sense.

The story moves at a brisk pace (but then it has to, as this is a four issue 24 page series (at $5 a pop, which must have rankled a lot of comics readers at the time (they’re a notoriously cheap breed))), and there’s a lot of intricate art to ogle.

I was going to say that it’s a slight book, but it isn’t, really. For a 90-ish page book, there’s just about the right amount of plot happening — it doesn’t feel cramped or hurried — or padded.

Except for the final issue, where Oink hooks up with a character that looks suspiciously like Clint Eastwood, and then they start telling each other their back stories (and the history of this world)… it’s not that it’s badly done, but it’s awkward.

Especially when you can see how few remaining pages there are, and Mueller adds new things and new mysteries. And indeed, the series doesn’t so much end as stop, and the final page is Oink and Clint heading off into new mysteries.

But for what it is, it’s a pretty entertaining read, so I’m surprised to find that apparently this has never been collected or reprinted, so perhaps people didn’t like it much?

Mueller has released a new version of the first story, and apparently redraw it all. Which is probably a good idea, since the storytelling there was rough at points.

I’m unable to find any good reviews of this series, but there’s this:

Pure post-apocalyptic splattered in blood and brains. John Mueller’s painted artwork is a brutally beautiful mixture between Heironymous Bosch and Mad Max.

You can apparently pick up sets of this for not a lot more than cover price.

Or a lot below cover price.

This is the two hundred and eighteenth post in the Entire Kitchen Sink blog series.

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