It’s about a seagull with human arms that kills people. What were you expecting?
At the suggestion of a buddy at the comic book shop I frequent, I stopped by the table of Rian Miller at Boston Comic Con this past Saturday. He was featuring his DIY masterpiece Man-Gull. With both the story and the art created by Miller, Man-Gull is an absurd adventure the revolves around a seagull with stolen arms. The book is released by Stock*Pile Comics and is chock full of preposterous panels that will make you laugh out loud.
The book opens up on a couple, enjoying a night under the moonlight with some beers. Despite a warning from his female counterpart, the man makes the worst decision of his life and throws the plastic six-pack ring into the lake, WITHOUT CUTTING IT FOR SAFETY! Before you know it a struggle ensues, the woman gets pushed into the water and the man gets attacked. Then we get a fantastic full panel shot, featuring a limbless body, a screaming woman, and a Man-Gull logo done up in an old school horror film style. That’s really the prevailing tone of this book. It walks the line between ridiculous monster movie and bad-ass cop adventure.
We meet the main protagonist on the following page. Detective Obeks is seen handing out some coffees and chumming it up with the staff. You get a nice feeling about his character, the “good cop” in that type of a scenario. He meets with the doctor handling the limbless victim. Clearly, this doctor either works way too much or just plain hates cops, but either way the conversation between he and Det. Obeks seems aggressive and brooding. Despite the bickering, what we end up finding out is that the victim’s arms look like they’ve been hacked off with a knife or a screwdriver. Finding more questions than answers, Det. Obeks heads to go interview the victim’s girlfriend for clues.
Once at the precinct, Det. Obeks takes pity on the woman. She’s been under heavy scrutiny for six hours, and has given the boys in blue very little to go on. Thinking he’d catch more flies with honey, Det. Obeks offers to take the girl home. While driving he continues the questioning, but is met with the same resistance and lack of knowledge that the other officers got. After a call to his ex-girlfriend, he gets her to agree to give her expert opinion on the victim’s wounds. Before he can meet with her though, Det. Obeks needs to grab some paperwork back at the hospital.
All this buildup has lead to these next few glorious pages. It becomes clear to Det. Obeks that something isn’t right when he notices a broken neck on the guard officer. He pulls his gun and enters the room, but the sight is so strange that it makes him falter. Inside is a seagull with human arms over its legs, trying to suffocate the victim with a pillow. The seagull ignores Det. Obeks’ command to freeze, and charges at him, both hands raised. The bird reacts quickly and is able to dodge a couple of Det. Obeks’ shots. The two wrestle to the floor and the gun is knocked loose. They fight for it, but it’s the seagull who ends up wielding the firearm. My favorite panel in this whole book has to be the one with the seagull aiming the pistol right at the viewer. Det. Obeks manages to dodge the bird’s bullet by diving over the hospital desk. While waiting down there for the bird to empty his magazine, you get to see some more of the seagull’s gruesome handy work. Miller adds a woman with a Bic pen protruding from her eye socket at the bottom of this already hectic scene. The bird figures out how to reload, so Det. Obeks chucks a computer monitor in hopes of breaking up the fight. The seagull ends up charging through a window and getting away, and the story closes with Det. Obeks stating the obvious.
Man-Gull is artistically excellent. It is absurd and action-packed. Miller balances action and dialogue nicely and uses a dynamic layout to keep every spread interesting to look at. I’m curious how long Miller can keep a story about a seagull with man arms going, but as long as the pages are filled with feathered violence, I’ll have no problem spending money on them.