I have heard it said that one must have an intuitive knowledge of what makes an art form tick to satirize it effectively.
That certainly applies to the writer-illustrator team responsible for the dystopian drama in which superheroes question their roles and attack the human residents of a large city.
During her long and varied career, Gail Simone has written for such iconic titles as “Wonder Woman” and “Birds of Prey”
She’s one of the rock stars of the comic book biz.
And you only have to click on the link below to understand what a talented and versatile artist Jim Calafiore is.
As LEAVING MEGALOPOLIS proves, Mr. Calafiore takes Ms. Simone’s subversive text and brings it to raucous, rockin’ life. epic in scope and yet meticulous in detail. There is a phrase a film critic once used to describe director David Lean’s style that, I think, describes Mr. C’s style in this graphic novel. And that phrase is “intimate epic”.
Leaving Megalopolis is a crowd-funded venture on Kickstarter initiated by Gail and Jim “to see if the comic-book community would be interested in reuniting the team that brought them the fan-favorite comic ‘Secret Six’ ” (A Kickstarter Limited Edition cover is reproduced at the back of the book.)
The original goal was 34 thousand dollars. By the end Ms. Simone and Mr. Calafiore raised ” three times that much.”
Those cool features at the back of the book are like a graphic novel equivalent of DVD extras.
A 14 page bonus feature, “Wonderboy”, starts out with two superheroes arguing about who is going to rescue yet another hapless human (“This is my block. I save her!”) before things turn irrevocably dark.
Both Gail and Jim give us an insight into the creation of some of the characters in a behind-the-scenes featurette. For example, Gail reveals the inspiration for Overlord (depicted on the book’s cover) came from, of all places, a Van Morrison song (the lyric in “Tupelo Honey” in which Van sings about “men of insight, men of granite.”)
So there are echoes of other comic book creations, “Watchmen” and “Fantastic Four”, for example. According to one of the feature extras, that is purposeful. “We wanted the characters to capture the spirit of certain eras in comics,” explains Gail, ” but not exact archetypes.”
Mr. Calafiore has his own term for the deranged superheroes he has created. He calls them “Crazy Capes.(According to the novel the superheroes have their own name for the humans. They call them “capeless freaks.”)
Of course, there is one Marvel comic character that is a special favorite of the artist: “Okay, so sue me. The Hulk is my favorite character, so I had to put in a big nod to him. But I gave him (“The Phulk”) a different color, a goatee and that weird red crown.”
LEAVING MEGALOPOLIS should act as an antidote to all those Marvel Comics-inspired superhero flicks. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a longtime Marvel fan myself (although I’m more of a “Sgt. Fury” guy)