Sinister Grin Press is known for releasing some fantastically nasty, gruesome horror books from some equally fantastic and disturbing authors (Wrath James White, Nate Southard, Jack Ketchum, and Monica O’Rourke, to name just a few). So when I say that their newest release, Fantastic Earth Destroyer Ultra Plus, is an illustrated fairy tale for adults, don’t get the wrong idea.
The story is written by Cameron Pierce, who’s not only the head honcho over at Lazy Fascist Press, but also author of such titles as Abortion Arcade, Die You Doughnut Bastards, and Ass Goblins From Auschwitz. Add in the mind-melting artwork of Jim Agpalza (see front cover image for a taste), and it becomes even more apparent why it completely makes sense that this book and this publisher are arriving at the party together.
If Fantastic Earth Destroyer Ultra Plus (from here on out to be referred to as FEDUP so as not to over-cushion my word count) is to be considered a fairy tale, then it is one in which the characters give a middle finger to the family-friendly rules and take off on their own to see what might happen. But it all starts with our anti-hero, Tetsuo (such a great name), a small child who is born into some of the most unfortunate of circumstances. While his mother was still pregnant with him and his brother, Farfalu, their father died in a tragic accident. When Tetsuo was born, his heart was on the outside of his chest, a hollow cavity inside where it should have been. At age three, his foot transformed into a whale, one that doctors predicted would continue to grow until it eventually ate him. Some years later, in a continuation of his bad luck, he accidentally shot his brother’s arm off.
Eventually, just after the townspeople all start becoming puppets, Tetsuo is driven from his home and from the city of Itchy Zoo. He finds shelter with Summer, a girl who lost her sight when lightbulbs exploded in her face. Summer also happens to be Tetsuo’s brother’s former love. Summer also happens to live just down the street from Satan. She had struck up a deal with Satan in hopes of regaining her sight, but being Satan, he cheated her and instead held her under some control.
Is this a crazy story? Yes, as a matter of fact, it is. FEDUP asks a lot of the reader, mainly to completely suspend your disbelief and let yourself become one with the story that, as I synopsize it, sounds crazier and zanier than ever. But with that is part of the beauty of the story. Yes, it is an insane fairy tale that blends a bit of the quirky characters from Tim Burton’s book The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories with both the innocence of Frankenstein’s monster and the dirtiness of the “Mature Readers Only” section of the comic book store (think the wackiest, most perverted Heavy Metal issue you’ve seen, then multiply that by ten). But the real reason that FEDUP works is the creative collaboration of Pierce and Agpalza.
The story is a very quick read. In fact, it is the quickest two-hundred and fifty-some page book I’ve ever read. But the strength of the book, the reason it works, lies within Pierce’s minimal writing and Agpalza’s perfect black and white illustrations. For every page of story, there is a corresponding page of illustrations that perfectly detail everything that is happening. It’s not often we, as adults, are both shown and told a story, so a part of us will love this for its nostalgic feel to our younger days, reading Dr. Seuss and the like. But this isn’t a children’s book, as I mentioned before, and the illustrations are just as graphic as the words on the opposite page. So, for example, you get to see an artist’s rendering of a whale-footed boy whose heart beats outside his chest as he sews a phonograph to his mouth and walks along the beach, among other things you wouldn’t expect to find illustrated in a book on your shelf.
Fantastic Earth Destroyer Ultra Plus is a lot of fun. It’s different, and it’s pretty out there, but it’s perfect for the reader who likes a bit of fantasy and imagination in his or her stories, as well as the graphic novel and manga fans. Bizarro readers will no doubt already have this on their radar, but I also think the majority of hardcore Sinister Grin Press fans will find something they like in this one.
Book Review: Fantastic Earth Destroyer Ultra Plus – Author Cameron Pierce