Written by Mike Garley
Art by Lukasz Kowalczuk
Colours and Letteers by Lukasz Mazur
I’ll start with an introduction by writer Mike Garley…
“Late Fees is a 36 page limited edition comic (666 signed copies) with a spot gloss cover, … It is due to be launched at London’s Orbital Comics at a signing on the 8th of September.
“If you’ve read any Samurai Slasher then you’ll know that it is an 1980s horror-inspired Slasher comic, which doesn’t take itself too seriously. However this isn’t anything like that…
“Late Fees is a slice of life exploration of escapism. It’s a story about life, death and 80s horror…
“It’s a really personal story for me, as well as the incredibly talented Lukasz Kowalczuk. Which is why I have struggled to describe it….’
The Story: A father and son get together when the son is in his young and formative years. To pass their time together the father introduces him to horror movies at the local ‘Shockbuster Video’.
This leads to a love of horror in the son and specifically in daydreams and fantasies about him actually being The Samurai Slasher, fighting monsters and righting the wrongs and events that invade this boy who is turning in to a man.
Through this technicolour lens we see the father son dynamic and the problems that occur. It doesn’t end it quite the way you expect…
The Review: Well, this came as a surprise. Not because I’m not a fan of both of the creator’s involved in this project – but more because they seemed at first to be strange bedfellows. In many respects it is through the inverse logic of their pairing that you get such an interesting end product.
Samurai Slasher: Late Fees was a book that surprised me by its heart. I got sent it by Mike a few nights ago and he included a note saying that he thought it was something that I would like. So, of course, my first reaction was to presume that Late Fees was more of the violent transgressive grindhouse goodness I had experienced previously. And the pairing with Lukasz Kowalczuk, an artist known for his crazy visuals and superb, fly in your eye violence seemed like a no brainer.
But Late Fees is much more than that.
The creators make great use of counterpoint and contradiction to pull you in and point at the heart and soul of what is actually a very real feeling slice of suburban life.
(Apart from all the monsters and extreme violence – but I’m sure you see what I mean).
I’m a Dad. My son is grown now, able to stream or click on a movie (or whatever they bloomin’ well do these days). But I remember going to a video rental shop and choosing movies with him. He once told me that “I can watch any movie”. So we watched a horror movie and he, like the son in Late Fees was captivated.
It is that fatherly bonding and slightly estranged family relationship in this comic that grounds it in the reader’s eye. This common ground and shared hobby is pointed at in this comic to provide a reality and a fantasy element to be introduced and developed.
I got to the end of my first read through and messaged Mike with “DUDE! Lotta heart” and “Send me some hi-res images” as it made me want to shout about it.
In common with all good art, this comic pulls valuable emotions from the reader. I personally worried at the levels of damage and extreme distress that feature and are hinted at below the surface. The Slasher fantasy character is at once an escape and also a reaction to something difficult and hurtful.
In common with a lot of good and sophisticated stories, Late Fees also doesn’t fully explain what his or ha happened and leaves the reader to interpret certain words and scenes. I have personally gone back over a couple of moments to investigate further. I am still ruminating on a couple of scenes and attempting to decipher the dark emotions hiding away.
I enjoy the testing of the reader in this comic one hundred per cent.
Listen, the art is exactly what I expect from Mr Kowalczuk. Urgently anarchic, playfully abusive, satirically translucent and raucously humorous. Superbly dangerous in his deranged style, this artist is always worth examining beyond the the surface effect of his punky jumbled pages. Add to this the brightly realised colouring by Lukasz Mazur and you have a stage that is set to counterpoint the stinging emotional highs and lows on show from the writer.
For those that have enjoyed the previous Slasher volumes from Mike and his other works, I would point out that Late Fees is constructed differently, and so it should be. But it is a story delivered in a way that makes it worthy of the series and gives you an alternative view of this world.
Definitely a worthy bedfellow for your Samurai Slasher collection, it’ll be interesting to see where this goes from here.
• Head to Orbital Comics, London for the release event on the 8th of September 2017 between 4.00 and 7.00pm. Go to www.orbitalcomics.com for more details
• Watch out for that Kowalczuk but definitely head over to www.lukaszkowalczuk.tumblr.com to see more examples of his art style
• Find out more about Mr Mazur at www.facebook.com/lazurverse
Many thanks for reading