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Samurai Slasher: Late Fees (Self Published)

words: Mike Garley

pictures: Lukasz Kowalczuk

letters & colours: Lukasz Mazur

Do you remember the first R Rated movie you saw?

Maybe it something that’s unique to the VHS / DVD Generation but it seems like one of those off transgressive and transformative moments which define the transition from childhood to adolescence.

For what it’s worth I am pretty sure mine was the Francis Ford Coppola Production of Bram: Stoker’s Dracula which my father took me to see on New Year’s Eve 1992 when I was about 14 and a half.

Samurai Slasher: Late Fees is a story of that moment and moments like those that mark the end of the simplistic relationships and tastes of childhood and the beginning of something more complex, “mature” and “adult”.

British writer Mike Garley takes a detour from his Samurai Slasher series to bring us a different, more personal story.  This team he’s teaming up with Polish artist Lukasz Kowalczuk.

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The first two Samurai Slasher issues where loving homages to the excesses of 80s action movie and video nasties reminiscent of books like Kyle Stark’s Sexcastle, Benjamin Marra’s Night Business or O.M.W.O.T. and Tom Scioli’s American Barbarian but this third outing is a far more personal affair.

On the surface this is issue combines twin narratives of a father and son’s ritualistic trips to the video store with the story of a heroic legacy of the Samurai Slasher.

You don’t have to scratch too hard to find undercurrents of more serious stuff beneath the pop art Crumb-inspired ultra violence of Kowlaczuk’s art. Garley tackles some of those big challenges we all work through as we grow up and begin to more critically reassess our parents and our relationships with them.

What happens when you find out your parents aren’t infallible?

How do you deal with the realisation that one day your parents will die?

What do you do when you find out your parents can have vices and make bad choices just like everyone else?

I am a father to a son who is rapidly reaching the point of not being a little kid any more so this probably makes me more susceptible to these undertones than others but there is a sincerity to Garley’s takes on these themes that I found very genuine.

You probably know I am a fan of Lukasz Kowalczuk from my review of SLIME! and our work together on the Atomic Elbow.  His art in this story both compliments and contrasts the story.  The cartoonish hyper-violence rendered is perfect for that 1980s VHS aesthetic.

The lurid bold and vital colours adds a fantastic, dream like quality to the story as it flips seamlessly and surreally between the “real” world and that of the Samurai Slasher.

This is my first exposure to Garley’s Samurai Slasher but I am reasonably confident it won’t be my last.

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Samurai Slasher: Late Fees will be available through Garley’s website later this month.  You can follow Mike and Lukasz on Twitter for more updates.