Muzzlers, guzzlers and good yeggs
Joe Coleman has spent the last quarter-century purging and embracing his demons through art, an angry artist obsessed with decay and the extremes of human behavior. He is best known for his rich oil paintings, but what many don't know is that he has also created an impressive body of sequential, black-and-white art, which this volume collects. As with his paintings, Coleman is obsessed with violence and dementia, particularly in regard to cultural antiheroes and serial killers. Muzzlers, Guzzlers, and Good Yeggs collects the best of his true crime tales. Like a blend of Breughel and the EC horror comics of the 1950s, Coleman's character studies are dripping with lurid imagery and a pulp sensibility, rendered with careful draughtsmanship and dense with information. Coleman is obsessed with fear, the fear that inspires the horrible acts of the people he writes about, as well as the fear that their acts inspire. Muzzlers features five stories: "You Can't Win," which adapts the memoir of the same name by Jack Black, the notorious early 20th century con-man, thief, opium addict, convict and author; "Boxcar Bertha," which is about the depression-era female hobo who is driven to prostitution, only to be led to salvation by an unwanted pregnancy; "Carl Panzram, #31614," which depicts the life of the notorious serial killer and rapist who declared, "I hate the whole damned human race, including myself" and who expressed his thirst for murder right up to his own execution; "The Final Days of John Paul Knowles," a.k.a. "The Final Days of the Boston Strangler," which is equally a story about Sandy Fawkes, the woman who narrowly escaped being Knowles' seventeenth victim; the last story in the collection is "The Wages of Sin,"a brief manifesto on human suffering and the people and institutions that perpetuate it (priests, scientists and military, e.g.). With the exception of "The Wages of Sin," which serves as a kind of coda to the other four stories presented, each piece is written in the first person, putting the reader into the minds of each subject. Muzzlers, Guzzlers, and Good Yeggs is presented in a handsome, compact format that resembles a Big Little Book, though one strictly for grown-ups.
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