Originally published in 2006 by Ankama Editions and redistributed here by Titan Comics, Mutafukaz is a wildly creative title from Guillaume “Run” Renard (also known by the pseudonym 777), who seems heavily influenced by the American street art culture, and it shows in just how fabulously Mutafukaz comes together as a mish-mash of many different genres, both in art and in comic storytelling.
Mutafukaz (said to be a variation on “motherfuckers” in Hispanic-American slang) centers on two arguably human characters living in New California, an alternate reality where “The Big One” hit California in 1966, sending a large portion of the state to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. What’s been left in the wake of this quake is Dark Meat City, a metropolis spread out like LA but with a functional, lived-in grit reminiscent of Judge Dredd‘s Mega-City One. The story’s two leads are Angelino and Vinz; both are small-bodied, big-headed creatures, with Vinz intentionally looking like Marvel Comics’ Ghost Rider with a flaming skull where his head should be. Angelino hits his head, comes home to his roommate Vinz and some pet cockroaches, and then begins to see an in-process alien invasion that nobody else can see.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#4A7097″ class=”” size=””]Mutafukaz is quite the international artistic amalgamation.[/pullquote]
While the story is interesting enough–and the art is fantastic, with detail you can get lost in for hours–the most intriguing part of Mutafukaz is the involvement of this alien plotline. It’s not because an alien invasion is particularly novel; it’s the unusual blending of sci-fi with so-called hip-hop art that I found myself fascinated by here. It’s the They Live idea played out in the inner city streets of a Los Angeles stand-in, with the added novelty of the “men in black” coming into opposition with members of society who are not likely to stand by and listen to you explain what they saw was “just some built-up methane gas releasing into the sky”. These differing themes coming together makes for a very entertaining experience.
Outside of how interesting the combining elements are, the art is superb. I mentioned the Judge Dredd-like grittiness, but there are also quite a few cartoonish moments here. Perhaps it’s due to the tangential involvement of lucha libre wrestling in the story, but I felt reminded of the animated series Mucha Lucha, although this is certainly more mature; perhaps leaning in the area of Adult Swim’s Mongo Wrestling Alliance. Also present are a handful of almost surrealist, absurd moments that made me think of Ren & Stimpy. I suppose it’s fitting to be reminded of animation, since there is an animated film on the way in 2017.
To just compare the art of Run to specific parallels is fun, but it would ignore the fresh feeling of his work. The artwork in Mutafukaz is something you can only really get in today’s world. It’s a unique style born in similar circumstances to spaghetti westerns of the past. Run is a European who infuses the art of Mutafukaz with the kind of frenetic explosiveness of graffiti artists; an art meant to make the loudest impression in the shortest time span. At the same time, he incorporates stylized action, character design, and plot development you’d maybe expect to see in Japanese manga. Mutafukaz is quite the international artistic amalgamation.
For the collection, Mutafukaz: Book 1 not only includes the first four chapters of this story, but is also comes loaded with dozens of pages of early sketches; pictures from a road trip Run took across the American southwest and Mexico, which informed much of the story’s feel; and fan art, which just may be my favorite part of the whole thing.
Mutafukaz: Book 1
With its combination of international elements, Run’s Mutafukaz comes together as a highly entertaining example of modern cultural connectivity, and it also happens to feature wrestling, aliens, and gang violence.