Thursday, July 4, 2013

"then we saw that guy in the american flag coat with the monkey"

About two summers ago I picked up a remaindered graphic novel at one of the B&Ns in the hub.  Today, being Independence Day, seemed like a good day to read something titled The Star-Spangled Adventures of Captain Freebird by a pair known as The Fillbach (with an umlaut above the "a") Brothers.

These fellas have become pretty well-known in the comics world for their artwork on a Star Wars offshoot for Dark Horse but this was their first book, and it appears to be a collection of what were probably five and six page comics that they produced in the mid to late 90s.  The blurb on the back name-checks Vaughn Bode, Hunter Thompson, Thomas Pynchon, and David Lynch, and certainly all of them are in there.  But their art also showed a lot of influence by Rick Geary and Bill Sienkiewicz, as well as some straight-up homages to R. Crumb and Gene Colan.  The story bursts with references to song lyrics, Beat writers, oaters, Carlos Castenada-flavored shamanism and the work of Ed McGaa, the Grateful Dead, everything from the 60s and early 70s, Watergate, Vietnam, the self-help movement, The Lone Ranger, and too many others to list. 

The writing, which is not always up to par with most of the artwork (sometimes literally, with odd British spellings like "flavour" and multiple instances of the misuse of contraction "it's" for the possessive), reminds me most of the glorious Apaloosa Rising by Gino Sky.  There was a time in my life, just two decades ago, when I also tried writing free-form hippie-inflected narrative and I can't say I was successful, but the story the Brothers Fillbach tell lends itself to that style, and so I forgive the misspellings and such, the way one might an older relative's occasional wearing mismatched shoes.

I loved this sucker.  It ends with a hell of a lot of loose ends, and it's obvious the bros intended to follow up with a longer narrative called Broken Heroes: A Fantasy.  That never appeared.  As recently as 2010 they announced they were planning a return to Freebird, but that's also never appeared.  The Freebird saga may be best left as one of those unfinished masterpieces.

1 comment:

  1. CAP IS BACK...! A new 116 page graphic novel CAPTAIN FREEBIRD:AMERICAN PRAYER has just come out from FIRST COMICS... a new review is here, you have to scroll down a bit, but it's there: