Axe Cop 6: The American Choppers – Ethan & Malachai Nicolle

Axe Cop 6In addition to the genius title this is quite a watershed volume. You can see Malachai’s rational intellect coming on in leaps and bounds as the stories, despite their fantastic characters, follow a logical path. This is now more trashy soap opera than Dadaism but still just as much fun.

You can see popular culture having a greater impact within the narrative too and it doesn’t take much to see what films and TV he has been watching. You are always afraid that this will be the volume either he or you grow up and it will no longer be funny. Maybe next time.

We also see religion, specifically God and Satan, depicted here. You aren’t sure if Malachai or his older sibling are asking the theological questions but religion can either make more or less sense if you are a child. Depicting the divine in cartoons is quite a fraught proposition these days but I don’t think there is anything blasphemous here. The fact that Satan fights using corruption, temptation and deception is thematically spot on.

It does seem like there is a plan for the future of Axe Cop. We have a guest story by a new artist and two children. You can feel it harks back to the original anarchy and innocent morality of the original stories and, in time, they would be worthy successors.

No Ask Axe Cop but still a Thumbs Up!

Axe Cop 5: Axe Cop Gets Married – Ethan & Malachai Nicolle

Axe Cop 5You might think that the novelty would be wearing off or that your adult brain would shut down and begin to reject such silliness. Even worse, with the comic’s creator now nine years old the absurdity quota might drop. But it doesn’t. Axe Cop – who is basically Judge Dredd for surrealists – continues to delight and surprise.

This book is one of the best yet with a double dose of “Ask Axe Cop” and two big stories. With Malachai growing up he gets exposed to more of the adult world such as dating, marriage and children and with “Axe Cop Gets Married” shows us his perception of relationships. Still at the stage of girls and kissing are dumb this apparently necessary evil is integrated into his world.

Whilst his spin on the opposite sex is certainly unusual and definitely un-PC it is a lot less derogatory than the way many grown up writers treat female characters. Sure he has characters whose name end in queen and princess but that is probably what TV is foisting on him. He also has women who fight evil and chop of heads perfectly well without male backup and aren’t afraid to say they don’t want to get married but would rather fight crime.

Ethan, providing the drawings, also gets to mature with a really cool fight scene and a black and white wedding album at the end. With a new colourist on board everything gets a makeover and we see Axe Cop looking in his most polished and slick incarnation yet.

There is no sign of a plateau yet and for so many reasons this deserves to be a Double Thumbs Up!!

Axe Cop 4: President of the World – Ethan & Malachai Nicolle

Axe Cop 4We are all afraid of two things. Growing old and not finding Axe Cop funny anymore. Whilst you do grow accustomed to Axe Cop you aren’t yet ready to cease being amazed by its anarchic wonders.

You really couldn’t make this up. Even with rolling dice or picking random words from a hat you would not come up with something so unpredictable yet cohesive. It’s childish – and that is something that can’t be faked and that you are far too old to be able to duplicate.

This volume is one story and there is no “Ask Axe Cop” or other spinoffs. There are some very talented pinup contributions and as always Ethan’s engrossing notes on the creative process.

The only thing to be afraid of is Malachai growing up. Until then it is Thumbs Up and golden moustaches all round.

Axe Cop Volume Three – Ethan Nicolle & Malachai Nicolle

You know you are doing something right when you are on your third Trade Paperback, your art is appearing in the background of TV shows and Damon Lindelhof is writing your introductions. The simple idea at the heart of Axe Cop (that it is written by a six year old) shows no sign of becoming stale.

This is the longest of the three volumes and will certainly take a while to get through as it is jam packed with goodies. It starts with a medium length story then goes into almost 30 Ask Axe Cop skits. There are various holiday and seasonal specials, some non-Axe Cop stories, and a whole bunch of guest writers and artists. Crossovers like these are a tradition in the webcomic community and many of these are conjured up by the kids of other successful online creators. There is a full length official teamup with the hugely successful Dr. McNinja drawn by its artist. The two characters actually fit very well and seem to be cut from the same cloth.

We have left the technicolour spectacular behind and most of the art is in black and white. There are some special strips in colour and some black and white with a single colour highlight showing that the art is isn’t willing to stay still. The guest artists and guest pinup galleries give you a chance to see different styles at work. You also get to see Malachai drawing (before he gets bored) and Ethan writing.

The sheer quantity and diversity of material here won’t disappoint and this gets a solid Thumbs Up!

270/95

Tomorrow: Wet Moon – book 6: Yesterday’s Gone – Ross Campbell

Axe Cop Volume Two – Ethan Nicolle & Malachai Nicolle

This is the perfect antidote to modern life. In our world of structure, rules, procedure and conformity this is what we are missing. It’s the pure unbridled joy of creativity without consequence. No adult could make this up. And even if they did no one would publish it. But because it comes from the mind of a six year old playing with his toys it gets special dispensation.

This is the longest Axe Cop adventure ever. At what would be three issues long this is a seemingly endless romp through absurdity. It also has the perfect Monty Python ending too. It can get a little fatiguing and you might get a slightly numb to the frenetic twisting and turning and complete lack of logic. But you will never find anything less predictable than this work. We are all so postmodern that it takes untainted childish anarchy to stop us guessing the plot.

As well as entertaining this glimpse into a child’s mind is fascinating. You can see his emerging grasp of families, friendship, life, death, religion, politics and all aspects of our complex adult world. It is a rare treat to see our lives from the outside.

This is also the first Axe Cop story to be in full colour. The bright cartoonish hues really do add an innocent exuberance to the whole piece. The art, the layouts and the whole presentation is very adult and sophisticated in nature. These are proper techniques used effectively and intelligently to deliver and sustain this tsunami of ideas. You need some structure to stop your brain shutting down from the sheer wackiness of it all.

There are extensive notes, sketches, photographs and commentary, documenting the creative process in full and giving you a great understanding of how much time goes into making Axe Cop.

Double Thumbs Up for such a massive undertaking.

269/96

Tomorrow: Axe Cop Volume Three – Ethan Nicolle & Malachai Nicolle

Axe Cop Volume One – Ethan & Malachai Nicolle

Comics. The clue is in the title. They should be funny right? Yet most of them are dramatic, powerful, moving, angsty stories. This book makes up for it. It is the funniest thing you will ever encounter. It is insanely funny – because it is insane.

This was written/ inspired by a five year old and illustrated by his professional artist older brother. As such it untroubled by grown up sensibilities of structure, narrative, logic and consistency. Morals, the laws of physics, reality itself all go out with the bathwater in this anything-goes romp. It is the adage “children say the funniest things” made print. And it is unlike anything you have ever seen. The surrealism and unpredictability is so refreshing and so genuinely funny.

It starts with little one page sketches, as kids have short attention spans, but grows to longer and longer stories. Readers have also been sending in questions to “Ask Axe Cop,” and we see a plethora of wacky zany answers from a single panel up to two pages.

There is also a commentary with notes on each of the strips and a biography of the Axe Cop phenomenon which started as an internet joke, went viral and now has all manner of products. The real life story of this accidental sensation is just as interesting as the entertainment. You can really see this grow and evolve into a more sophisticated work before your eyes.

The art is black and grey with the perfect balance of detail to give a childlike freedom but still be realistic and cohesive. No matter how wildly fantastic the action gets the art always manages to catch up and has a humorous charm all of its own.

For sheer uniqueness and unprecedented laughs-per-second I give this a lightning high-five; or a Double Thumbs Up!

267/98

Tomorrow: Axe Cop Volume Two – Ethan Nicolle & Malachai Nicolle