Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

Home > CR Reviews

An Army of Lovers Will Be Beaten, Book One
posted May 30, 2007


Creator: Bernie McGovern
Publishing Information: Rockwell Farmer Press/Short Pants Press, magazine-sized comic book, 44 pages, June 2007.
Ordering Numbers:

This is the latest from the Short Pants Press group in Chicago, one of the half-dozen most reliable sources for quality mini-comics going right now. Magazine-sized yet still boasting handmade touches such as a cover of plain paper adorned with a color sticker, An Army of Lovers Will Be Beaten promises a long epic-sized story across a dozen "books," the kind of extended narrative you don't tend to see in the small press these days. The story involves a war hero going to a port town and finding himself fairly tossed about by the odder, outsized aspects of the town's culture, culminating in a daring rescue of an object of beauty from one of those satirically-loaded forms of physical danger.

imageMcGovern obviously brings a significant amount of artist talent to the table; and there are snatches of beautifully drawn sequences, particularly those accompanied by painted color. I am not a fan of the figure design utilized here, a variation on stick figure proportions given a bit of depth and flesh -- I know I've seen another artist take the same basic approach, but I can't remember where. I find it displeasing, and frankly more off-putting than uniformly symbolic of the similarities between folks or any other subliminal effect. The narrative proves more ramble than story, which puts a lot of pressure on the theme work to deliver. Except for a funny sequence where a llama snorts at the object of which its life has just been risked, what seems to come through is more a children's book-level distrust of war and veneration of romantic beauty not for the object but for the sake of how such reverie has a positive effect on the disposition of the person enjoying the self-reflection. That's not quite enough to capture my continued interest. I'd like to see where future books go, but right now this fails to offer enough in terms of admirable craft or unique artistic value.