Black Mass #6
by Patrick Kyle
Mother Books

“All Right, You Scummy Gutter Bums, This Is It! The Punk Off Is About to Get Started!”

review by BK Munn
My favourite moment in this final episode of Patrick Kyle’s hilarious punk epic is the intermission, wherein the author himself, tired of drawing the previous five issues of mayhem and magic, tries to get in on the action he himself has created and win the big Punk Off down at Punk House. Full of punk bluster, Kyle hops on his bike and heads out, spewing rants about how he used to drink in high school and vowing to teach these young punks a thing or two about what it means to be punk. Finally, he arrives at Punk House and kicks in the door, only to be told that he’s a poseur and that the Punk Off has already started (“Hey idiot! Beat it!”). Powerless against this effortless display of punk power, and tearfully apologetic, he slinks off, leaving the stage to the “real” punks and the climax of his narrative.
This great little episode is emblematic of Kyle’s approach to the whole series of this self-published comic book. Just like the anarchic punk world its characters inhabit, Black Mass takes a “no rules” approach to comics storytelling. No panel borders, character designs radically fall off and on model, perspective is just fucked up, and the story is goofily dumb, applying a video game logic to the tale of a group of cartoon heroes who get caught up in the attempt by an extra-dimensional demon to invade our universe and suck up all its subcultural karma. The plot? I’m afraid I will lose punk points for trying to summarize it (or do I gain dork points?), but here goes: Dingball, the king of punks, must help young TB Jr find his father Turdswallo Blackteeft who has been possessed by some magical types who are attempting to bring about the apocalypse. Or something.
It’s all just an excuse for Kyle, one of the editors of the Wowee Zonk comics anthology, to showcase his gorgeous busily-simple comic book page design and punk-puckish sense of humour. I love how he takes subcultural social anxiety to its extreme with the idea of punk points, the zongo jedi logic of which are described by Nature Punk (“an olds punk with high morals” –sort of the Obi Wan Kenobi of the punk world, with Swamp Thing-like powers) at the big Punk Off: “As punks, we all have punk points surging through our bodies! These points compel us to party and chug 40s. But if we control our points we can do so much more!” How much more is revealed in the comic’s final psychedelic pages, but I won’t share too much except to say the scenes of Kyle’s cyclopean, Philip Guston-style punks cavorting at the Punk House like some rubber-limbed, mohawked rejects from Hieronymus Bosch are sheer delight.