- Posted by Johanna on June 22, 2006 at 11:43 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
One of my earliest comic strip discoveries (and to this day, still my favorite) was Eyebeam by Sam Hurt. It started in Austin, Texas, and ran during the 80s before becoming Peaches, Queen of the Universe in 1990 and then ending. (For more history, read the Wikipedia article.)
Eyebeam was a law student, which never seemed quite right to me, although to say any more would be to insult lawyers unnecessarily. He’s a balding (although young) smartass who never becomes obnoxious to the reader because his targets are so deserving. He’s very imaginative, often getting lost in his own daydreams in sequences that could only happen as effectively in comics.
His legal training comes in handy when dealing with Hank the Hallucination, a character in his own right who resembles a giant slug with pop-eyes and random odd protrusions. The cast also includes his roommate, the well-meaning shlub Ratliff; Sally, Eyebeam’s healthily sex-crazed girlfriend; Sally’s old friend Beth, a shallow man-trap; and Vernon, a fellow lawyer-to-be.
The strip is so amazing because of Hurt’s creativity and originality. I’ve never seen anything else like it; the only thing I can compare it to is Krazy Kat, mainly because of the playful surrealism. The lines are frequently curved, in keeping with the instability of many of the characters and their mental states. Sally’s hair is worth comment in its own right — it quickly goes from long and curly to a trail that goes right off-panel, never-ending.
The strip starts as typical college humor, revolving around exams or boring classes or roommate issues, but soon enough it’s developed its own voice, with Hank running for student government (He won!) or Ratliff using Eyebeam’s time machine to go back to his childhood with all his knowledge of today. This is the comic that introduced me to the concepts of bizarre metaphorical poetry, many many ways to deflate overblown self-centered machismo, Three Initial Corporation, and Male Answer Syndrome (“the compulsion to provide an answer to any question, even if it means resorting to pure speculation”, or the inability to say “I don’t know” — I’m one of the few women susceptible to catching it).
Hank gets assassinated (with an imaginary gun, of course), returns, gets a girlfriend, gets dumped, and recovers. Eyebeam graduates and joins a law firm with Vernon. An alien robot joins the gang, and we meet Ratliff’s niece Peaches, a self-centered brat. Currently, you can read Eyebeam (one new every day), very early Eyebeam, or Peaches (new one every day).
You can sometimes find the books used:
- I’m Pretty Sure I’ve Got My Death-Ray in Here Somewhere
- Eyebeam, Therefore I Am
- Eenie Meenie Minie Tweed
- Our Eyebeams Twisted
- The Mind’s Eyebeam
- Teetering on the Blink
- Render Unto Peaches
Or, if you prefer comic-book-format reprints, there are two series. Five issues of the simply titled Eyebeam came out from Double Diamond Press (Martin “Hepcats” Wagner’s imprint) from 1990-1992. After that, Adhesive Comics released Eyebeam: The Trilogy from 1994-1995. This fan site has some more information and cover pictures.