Miguelanxo Prado
NBM Publishing

In honor of October being a month of change, I’ve reviewed a book that’s decidedly different from anything previously mentioned in this column. Miguelanxo Prado’s hardcover graphic album, Tangents, is a stylistically unique collection of eight painted short stories. This book, a cerebral standout in the realm of adults only comics, places relationship dynamics over sex scenes and permeates Prado’s work, as Tangents spans the sad and angry extremes of love gone sour.

This $17 color hardcover looks more like a coffee table tome than a comic book. But it’s an appropriate frame from Prado’s painted sequences. Lofty and lusty, Prado’s characters are drawn in a chalky Aeon Flux style with spooky, monochrome backgrounds. Prado, hailing from Spain, has been published in U.S. magazines Heavy Metal and ComicsLit.

Prado’s art focuses on realism and mood. The realism comes with the unflattering, sagging breasts of his older, power-hungry but fading females and the flaccid, uncircumcised points of men who thirst and starve for more than they can get. Prado’s circumstances warp attractive older characters into beaten, ugly versions of themselves in only a few panels. “Coffee In the Midafternoon” centers on a spurned lover, now a successful journalist, returning to the woman who dumped him five years earlier. After a seaside screw and a put-down, he revels in watching the confident, wealthy lady become “a woman whose sensuality and attraction had vanished into thin air.”

The stories in Tangents are brief snippets of weirdness and disturbing realization, sort of a marriage between the MTV Aeon Flux cartoon series and the film Short Cuts. Each scene is about a sex act that comes packaged with strange dynamics, from a character living a delusional 1930’s lifestyle to sex partners happily acknowledging that repeat performances are devoid of emotional attachments (or are they?).

“Delayed Dusk of October” is a four page self-spoof which ends with the punchline “I’m not sure whether we left because of our feelings, or because esthetically it’s the most appropriate ending for our story.” It over-exaggerates the melodrama of both Prado’s work and European sex comics in general and provides a tiny bit of comic relief in an otherwise weighty book. The rest of the stories are heady and sometimes a little ostentatious, but they’re damn good.

I dig this book because it presents eight different segments of life, all connected by a sex theme, which have to be studied to be understood. There are pieces to each story which actively engage the reader into thinking more about what’s not there, rather than what’s directly given. NBM has published an album which stands out in the adult comics market by both its production quality and artistic content.

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