Pen and Ink: Six Gun Gorilla
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Jeff Stokely
This next installment of the Pen & Ink series collects Six-Gun Gorilla issues #1-2 in an oversized, 11″ x 17″ format that features Jeff Stokely’s inks alongside new commentary and creative insights from Stokely and writer Simon Spurrier.
This black and white lookback volume includes the first two issues of Stokely’s and Spurrier’s steampunk sci-fi western, Six Gun Gorilla. The added attraction of this volume is the creator comments entered as footnotes to every page… sort of an “inside the mind of” edition that gives some insight into what was going on in the minds behind the book.
But that should be pretty obvious, right? I mean, it’s right there in the title. “Six Gun Gorilla”. What else is there, right? As Stokely and Spurrier repeat often in their comments, one of their overriding goals in this book was to reinforce that nothing is always quite what it seems. Except for 6GG… He’s really just a six-gun toting, cigar smoking, talking gorilla. More or less.
The story starts on a transport, carrying troops of the 4th Armored Chelonian and members of the PsiTech Blue-Eye Expendables into battle against the Rebel Warbands of the Blister. The Blister seems to be an oddity of science and physics where electronics and conventional combustibles don’t work. For weapons, this leaves the combatants getting creative with clockwork buzzsaw guns and pneumatic spike throwers. For transportation, it leaves them with mutant horses and giant lumbering war turtles. Visually, it leaves us as readers with a whole crapton of awesome!
Our POV character is a member of the aforementioned Blue Eye Expendables, known only to us as “Blue”. The Expendables are a suicide squad in every sense of the word… individuals from every background who have just come to the conclusion that their best and only option is spectacular death for the sake of keeping the masses entertained. See, every member of the Expendables is implanted with a Psi tumor that broadcasts what they see, for all to experience and enjoy. According to the military its meant to involve the general populace in the noble war effort. The fact is, it’s reality television boiled down to its most base element… the exploitation of a few for the entertainment of the many and the profit of the establishment.
Six Gun Gorilla… the book, not the character… does a lot of things very well. Elements are blended to great effect, quickly introducing us to a world of chaos and conspiracy. There are mysteries aplenty, the creative team using foreshadowing and oblique references to build up to their reveals. Spurrier’s dialogue, particularly between Blue and 6GG is sharp and full of wry humor. Stokely’s visuals are packed with information, nothing wasted or unnecessary, and not the least bit cluttered. Together, they mix and match the familiar (plantation style mansions…) with the bizarre (…on wheels and pulled by mutant buffalo) with some pretty spectacular results.
My only complaint is that one of Stokely’s footnotes tells us about some “bicycle riding zombie ninja hooligans”, of which we get not so much as a glimpse.