BEAST WAGON Babylon Zoo
released OUT NOW! Publisher Changeling studios
Writer Owen Michael Johnson Artist John Pearson
Feasting and fornication – that’s all life boils down to according to this visceral, hot-blooded series. Initially funded through Kickstarter, it proves that indie comics don’t necessarily have to use traditional distribution networks to succeed. With its compelling storyline, impressive art and high production values, Beast Wagon is as good as anything you find at Image or Dark Horse.
Set in the fictional Whipsnarl Zoo during a heatwave, each of the four issues to date has taken place over the course of an hour. As temperatures and tempers both rise, a looming ecological apocalypse begins to manifest, as we move towards the hottest time of the day.
Owen Michael Johnson deftly draws parallels between animals and humans as he puts words into the various creatures’ mouths, hilariously showing the contempt that the zoo’s residents have for visitors. It’s like Animal Farm crossed with The Lion King.
Meanwhile, artist John Pearson channels Dave McKean and Kent Williams, combining sharp linework with some evocative colour work that takes you into the hallucinatory mindset of the animal kingdom. With two issues to go, this is one bandwagon you’ll want to jump on. Stephen Jewell
One key influence was ’80s comic The Puma Blues, where animals have been mutated by a nuclear explosion.
Even Terry Nutkins would leg it.