Preview Comic Book Review – Punchline #1
I recently got another opportunity to take a sneak peek at the latest comic from writer Benito Andino III, whose latest story is the first addition of Punchline. It may not be as controversial in themes as some of his previous work, but with another compelling story, stunning visuals and some bloody ultra-violence it is not any less powerful.
Benito Andino III: Creator-Writer-Letterer
Roman Gubsky: Artist-Colourist
Giannia Andino: Editor
Waiting anxiously in the wings is Katy, as she prepares for her first stand up performance at an Old Theatre called The Punchline. Peeking through the curtains to see the audience arriving, she suddenly notices a devious looking clown sitting in the crowd – Tortura! His eyes fixated on Kate, with a sinister grin stretched across his face. She turns to see if anyone else has spotted him, but when she glances back, he was suddenly gone.
Unsure if it was a trick of the light or just nerves before her performance, she tries to get the image out of her mind, but just before she goes on stage the clown reappears. Despite her initial reservations Kate decides to go on stage, initially able to ignore the clown she begins her routine. It all seems to be going well until the clown’s stare catches her eye, Kate becomes transfixed and Tortura suddenly starts to move…
Initially Punch Line doesn’t feel more as dark in themes as some of Benito’s previous work, taking its time to develop the atmosphere with Kate in the theatre. As expected, this does not last long as we begin to learn more about, Tortura’s intentions things quickly take an extreme turn for the worse.
Visually the clown Tortura is a brilliantly disturbing character to look at. His clown makeup distorted by small belts across his face, which pull back across the top of his eyes and the side of his mouth – forcing permeant haunting stare and stretched grin. It is a very distinctive look and I would say it is easily Benito’s most memorable character to date. This says a lot because his characters, both with their appearance and actions are often hard to forget.
For a first issue and considering the gradual build-up of the initial scene in the theatre, Punchlines manages to fit quite a lot into the comic, without effecting the flow of the story. In addition to Kate and Tortura, we also get a brief introduction to three other seemingly central characters. Two further clowns, Phantom and Lim who are somehow connected to Tortura, although their appearance seems far less disconcerting. Additionally in an unknown capacity other than a connection to the theatre The Punchline,we are introduced to Mr Hanko – who also goes under the names of Asator or Hank. These characters all make an immediate impact despite their brief appearance, giving the comic a more supernatural element, which adds both intrigue and further questions regarding the story.
The different style and colouration of Benitos stories have always impressed me and Punchline is no exception, especially with the visual style which changes throughout to reflect the story. From a calm controlled styling at the start, the visuals gradually get more colourful and erratic as Tortura begins to fully manifest himself. The change in style continues to evolve throughout the comic, which is presented with an even further contrast when we see Tortura in his own dwellings. Despite a few bold splashes of colour, the background is more subdued and devoid of any additional coloration’s. The distinct lack of colour in the background puts the emphasis on the outlines of the scene and even more so, the bold red blood which seems to be flowing on the floor around him.
A reoccurring theme regarding religion is played once again used in Punchline, this time using a desecrated image of Christ which has been painted to look like a clown. In a surprising twist considering Tortura dark demeanour, the painting of the picture is not done out of contempt as he actually idolises Christ. It is uncertain at this stage why at this time why he idolises Christ and the reasoning for painting the picture, but I am sure this will be further explored later in the series.
Punchline is another brilliantly compelling fantasy horror story from Benito Andino III, which draws you into the story with the excellent visual execution and fascinating characters. With an open ending and so many avenues in which the story can explore it is difficult to know where the series will go next, but with so many questions now left unanswered it leaves you on a cliff-hanger where you can’t help but want to know more.