"In Sanity, AZ" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Quad Shot
Written by Michael Drace Fountain, Marcel Losada, James Ninness, and Joe Pezzula
Illustrated by Chris Burkheart, Courtney Camacho, Chris Collins, Collin Fogel, Kevin Gemser, Scott Irwin, Rich Kuhaupt, Frank Luna, John Narcomey, Donald Poquiz, Jorge Sevilla, Brian Soriano, Jed Soriano, Lance Sawyer, Mike Temple, and Daniel Touchet
2013, 180 Pages
Graphic novel released on September 8th, 2013
There are some pretty strange places in the United States. There are the obvious ones like Area 51 or the world's largest ball of yarn, but the real creepy areas are the ones that no one talks about. I mean the small towns that you pray you don't have to stop in for gas. That's what Sanity, AZ, is and it's the main subject of an independent anthology comic entitled In Sanity, AZ.
The title of this book is not just a witty pun. The residents are totally insane. The town was founded after the inmates of an asylum out in the desert killed the staff. They expanded out from the building and put together something that passes for a community. They have their own set of laws, politics, and religion that seems bizarre to the outside world but makes total sense to the locals. Anyone that comes through Sanity often doesn't live to regret it. The inhabitants are very protective of their land and they don't take kindly to strangers.
In Sanity, AZ, consists of over 25 stories from over 20 creators, all taking place within this town. Each tale centers on a particular character, usually dealing with a lost traveler coming into the area. The way to deal with outsiders is known to all residents, as they're toyed with and ultimately murdered and sometimes eaten. As the book progresses, a clearer picture of Sanity comes together. By the end you can almost understand their logic and that's probably the scariest part.
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A central character featured in many stories is the town enforcer, John. He's a bulky man that keeps order amongst both visitors and residents. His justice is carried out right away, often with his hands at someone's throat. There's a moral code at work in John's mind. He sees his actions as noble, so he's doing what's right. John could be seen as the main character of In Sanity, AZ, as you witness the town's highs and lows through his eyes. He wants what's best for the area and personifies the fear and ignorance of the outside world that the locals feel.
Most of the tales included is a little twisted. If you don't have an appreciation for dark humor, you will not enjoy In Sanity, AZ. “Cuckoo Clocks” is a good example, which follows the town sheriff – a young boy under 10 years old – as he gets up the guts to give his gal pal a present. What pops out when the bell chimes on the clock is surprising and a little disturbing, but the girl loves it. Aww! Isn't that sweet? This particular story written by Joe Pezzula and illustrated by Kevin Gemser, is presented without a single word of dialogue. The whole story is told through Gemser's artwork and the expressions of the characters.
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The art ranges in quality. Gemser is definitely on the high end with most of the book, but there are some pretty rough pages. Lance Sawyer's work on “Covet” and “Lord's Name” stands out as flat and blocky. Mike Temple's art on “Lullaby” is insane, which is a perfect fit for the title. If anything is going to stick with me after reading this comic, it's the panels within that tale. So creepy.
Overall, In Sanity, AZ, is a fun read. It takes a little getting used to as you get accustomed to madness, but once you piece things together, you can understand how these people live. There's a small town simplicity to this. It's like a crazy version of Mayberry.
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