McLaughlin and El Chivo’s El Bigote promises much, hell, just the mad cover and the description on the inside front cover sounds fun:
“A Tequila-Drenched Reckoning is a special stand-alone series preview issue aimed at introducing readers to and showcasing the bizarre world of El Bigote, which just might be the only gothic mexican horror-western-black comedy in existence!”
Yes, I liked the sound of that, and it’s full of great promise, this tale of the wilds of Mexico, where the undead run riot, everyday a festival of death and mayhem.
El Bigote is the man/corpse to clean it up, starting with the gang that killed him in the first place (with Tequila worms of all things – yeah, it’s as messy as you’d imagine), and he’s not going to rest till those undead murdering bastards are back in the grave – permanently this time.
So here he is, full of mustache, riding into town on his undead ostrich…. yep, ostrich, that’s the level of weird and silly and funny we’re gunning for here:
But whilst the idea is cracking, the execution is a little lacking. Especially right at the beginning, where we’re thrown into it all a little too quickly, the action cranked up to 11 from the start. And yes, I know it’s meant to be a brilliantly over the top, multi-genre explosion of ideas, but this is very much the opener, and when the pace starts at 11, there’s just nowhere to go, no way to ratchet up the action in the latter part.
In fact, if anything, once the initial full throttle start is over, everything actually slows just a little, in plot, pace, dialogue, and art, and it becomes far, far better for it.
El Chivo’s art, like McLaughlin’s story, could really benefit with taking it all down a notch. Take a look at the two pages included here. Page 1 could, should be great, but that very first panel, a cracking establishing shot with the gag of El Bigote arriving by ostrich, just isn’t bold enough, it’s lost in the page, too many details surrounding it, drowning it out. You should be gagging on the giggles for the ostrich, yet the eye is actually guided away from it too quickly.
Likewise, the page above, Page 3, is full of just too much stuff. That first panel doesn’t work to my eyes, far too much going on, too difficult to make out what’s going on, so that by the time you get to the key panel, where El Bigote makes his big entrance so brilliantly, you’re a little lost, impact lessened.
There’s nothing in here that’s absolutely terrible, not at all, in fact, once it does slow down some after the manic and cluttered early pages there’s enough here to think there’s legs on the series. Fun, ridiculous, over the top. With just that little more control to it, the mania may become inspired rather than simply a little too chaotic.
El Bigote is due to be published online, but right now McLaughlin is offering free digital copies from the El Bigote blog.