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Six-Gun Gorilla (BOOM! Studios, 2013; #1-6)

Q: Where does an 800-pound Gorilla with two six-shooters sit?

In the future, war rages between the U.S. and the inhabitants of an untamed pocket dimension called Blister. Its battles are destination entertainment, broadcast back home by those desperate enough to sign up as camera-wearing cannon fodder. Some are terminally ill and looking for a payday for their loved ones. Others seek a quick death. One librarian, alone after losing the woman he loved by burying himself in old, pulp stories, finds something else. A talking, sharpshooting gorilla.

Beneath its absurdist and sci-fi trappings, this comic is about stories. How the stories we encounter lead us to imagine a better world. Or how they embolden us to be better. And that’s to say nothing of the power that comes from accepting the stories we try to forget. Simon Spurrier sets all this agains the backdrop of a society ruled by violent, unscripted, macho entertainment. Spectacle makes for distraction, making story a sort of forgotten magic.

On that note, Spurrier draws characters and inspiration from pulp stories with forgotten or anonymous authors. For instance, you can find the original "Six-Gun Gorilla" from 1939's Wizard right here.

So much of the richness of Six-Gun Gorilla’s worlds—both in its earthbound and Blister-based scenes—comes from Jeff Stokely and André May’s art. Stokely’s shadowy, pulpy lines are full of details that no one comments on—small things like rebels’ weapons and basic details of the world. Also, giant turtle mounts, buffalo-riding cowboys pulling a mansion on wheels, and the like just roll across a panel. It drives home how mundane these fantastical elements are to the book’s spectacle-obsessed audience. And May’s rich, earthy palette leans into the book’s pulp and western roots. Its look often reminded me of Hellboy and Tank Girl.

A: On your bookshelf. Ironic as it may be, I expected Six-Gun Gorilla to be fun but empty spectacle. But I’m happy to be wrong. This is funny and bittersweet and has something to say about story and the truth. And self-awareness. It says it using layers of pulp, sci-fi, and western tropes in clever ways. And it’s full of fun, dynamic visuals. Definitely check this book out if you get a chance.

Collected in

  • Six-Gun Gorilla (#1-6)


Writer: Simon Spurrier | Artist: Jeff Stokely | Colorist: André May | Letterer: Steve Wands | Designer: Kelsey Dieterich with Mike Lopez | Editor: Eric Harburn

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