Maximo Raw Book One by Laurent Minassian
As I was reading this book I was listening to the radio, and the tune God Made Me Funky by The Headhunters came on. The band are Herbie Hancock’s jazz-fusion combo from the early 70’s – and it’s a funky, jazzy tune, sometimes abrasive which will carry you to a world of hot nights in the big city. A bit like this comic.
Maximo Raw is a slice of underground comics goodness. It evokes those 70’s kung-fu and blaxploitation movies that were all the rage back in the day. That scene had a big influence on many artists. It certainly had an impact on comics. Marvel always liked exploiting the current hot trends. The likes of Master of Kung-Fu, Iron Fist and Luke Cage all sprang from that scene.
An, arguably bigger, cultural influence came in the shape of the films of Quentin Tarantino. Movies like Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction drew on the world of martial arts spectacle and criminal ultraviolence. Crucially Tarantino built a world that evoked those movies, with emblematic elements like Big Kahuna burgers and with a killer soundtrack (this use of fast-food brands to both evoke a feeling of time and place and to say something about the society they exist in is also notable in Alan Moore’s Watchmen.)
Tarantino looms large in Maximo Raw, a world of big Afros and big guns. It even features one of the characters memorably talking about his favourite burger chain “let’s head to Burger-O. I’m in the mood for their fries. They’ve got moose-sized fries now with a shit-ton of cholesterol.”
Probably that influence is a little too pronounced. However one of the strong points of the book is how it uses dialog to introduce the characters and tell their stories. The opening pages are particularly well done, with a play by play card game which uses the panels well to combine faces, dialog and the cards themselves to paint a picture of a man whose luck is turning for the worse.
Visually the book lays a great deal of emphasis on action. The black and white pages work well for the scenes of bloody violence as bullets tear through the air and spent cartridges rain down in panels that bring to mind Geoff Darrow. Perspective is used well and there is plenty of dynamism in how the characters move through the panels. A weak point comes with the faces, the 70’s facial hair seems a little too flat and static.
Overall Maximo Raw has a real underground comics feel in a similar vein to Atomic Hercules with a strong cinematic influence. If you dig the world of nunchucks and uzi’s then check it out.
Maximo Raw will be launching on Kickstarter on April 6th 2021. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lkmboogie/maximo-raw