Friday, November 27, 2015

Review: MAN IS VOX: Barracudae (Expanded Edition)

MAN IS VOX: BARRACUDAE (Expanded Edition)
CANDLE LIGHT PRESS – @candlelightpres

WRITER: John Ira Thomas
ARTIST: Carter Allen
INKS: Jeremy Smith (“Dessert” story)
LETTERS: John Ira Thomas
COVER: Carter Allen
ISBN: 978-0-9966176-1-1; paperback (2015)
144pp, B&W and Color $14.95 U.S.

Published by Candle Light Press (CLP), Man is Vox: Barracudae is a 2003 original graphic novel (OGN) created by writer John Ira Thomas and artist Carter Allen.  The story follows a man who is essentially a killer on the search for a psycho who kills some women and abuses in terrible ways those that he does not kill.  Because of the resources and processes available to them at the time, Thomas and Allen were not able to see Barracudae published the way they intended it.

2015 is Candle Light Press' 20th anniversary.  In fact, there is a book celebrating that anniversary, CLP20: Twenty Years of Candle Light Press (, a book to which I have contributed a few notes.  For CLP, this anniversary provides an opportunity to re-release, re-present, and repackage some of its publications.

Man is Vox: Barracudae ( gets a makeover with the release of Man is Vox: Barracudae (Expanded Edition).  It is the same graphic novel, but with color restored to the sections that were meant to be presented in color.  Additional material has been added to the main narrative, and there is a new color story produced by Thomas and Allen for this new edition of one of CLP's classic comics.  Man is Vox: Barracudae (Expanded Edition) is also published in a larger format, 7.25” x 9.5” (where as the original 2003 edition was small at 6” x 9”)

Man is Vox: Barracudae follows the trippy adventures of Tyson Gurst a.k.a. “The Fearsome Shade” a.k.a. “The Husband.”  Early in the story, a dying mobster tries to make a trade for his life (because Gurst is going to kill him).  The doomed criminal alerts Gurst to a bigger crime.  Traveling a state highway of gas stations and cheap motels, the Fearsome Shade will discover a conspiracy that ends with some of the most powerful good guys around.

Man is Vox: Barracudae is crazy.  John Ira Thomas is experimental and sometimes avant-garde, to the detriment of the narrative in a few places.  That said:  this comic book is unabashedly humorous, and, in its final act, it playfully skewers superhero comics, particularly the post-modern twisting of traditional superhero comics that started in the 1980s and continues to this day.  I like its ideas; truth and justice do come at a cost.  What do we really want from our saviors?  Do they really know what we want?

With Man is Vox: Barracudae, Carter Allen shows off his storytelling skills.  Mixing both media and drawing styles, Allen makes Thomas' script work as graphical storytelling without grounding it into boring practicality.  Allen remains an original voice in American comic books.

What I said about the original is true of Man is Vox: Barracudae (Expanded Edition).  It is both trippy and inspired.  It puts the original in OGN – original graphic novel.  Readers looking for high-quality independently published graphic novels will find one in the spiffy new Man is Vox: Barracudae (Expanded Edition).

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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