The Biologic Show

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The Biologic Show
Cover of The Biologic Show #0
Publication information
Publisher Fantagraphics Books
Genre Alternative, horror
Publication date October 1994 – January 1995
Number of issues 2
Creative team
Creator(s) Al Columbia
Cover of The Biologic Show #1

The Biologic Show is a comic book series written and drawn by Al Columbia. The first issue, #0, was released in October 1994 by Fantagraphics Books, and a second issue, #1, was released the following January. A third issue (#2) was announced in the pages of other Fantagraphics publications and solicited in Previews but was never published. "I Was Killing When Killing Wasn't Cool", a color short story with a markedly different art style originally intended for issue #2, appeared instead in the anthology Zero Zero. In a 2010 interview, Columbia recalled that the unfinished issue "looked so different that it just didn’t look right, it didn’t look consistent, and it didn’t feel right to keep putting out that same comic book, to try to tell a story where the style is mutating."[1] The series' title is taken from a passage in the William S. Burroughs book Exterminator! (in the chapter "Short Trip Home"). The passage in question is quoted briefly in a story from issue #0, also titled "The Biologic Show".

Each issue of The Biologic Show contains several short stories and illustrated poems. Many of the pieces deal with disturbing subject matter such as mutilation, incest, and the occult. Issue #0 introduces three of Columbia's recurring characters: the hapless, Koko the Clown-like Seymour Sunshine in the opening story "No Tomorrow If I Must Return", and the sibling duo Pim and Francie in "Tar Frogs". (Both "Tar Frogs" and the aforementioned "The Biologic Show" had originally appeared in the British comics magazine Deadline but were partially redrawn for Columbia's solo book.) Issue #1 is dominated by the 16-page Pim and Francie story "Peloria: Part One", intended as the start of an ongoing serial. It includes another character, Knishkebibble the Monkey-Boy, who reappears in Columbia's later work. Upon the demise of The Biologic Show Fantagraphics announced that Peloria would be released as a stand-alone graphic novel,[2] but this plan was also abandoned.

Reception[edit]

Reaction to the The Biologic Show upon its release was mixed. One of the few contemporaneous reviews of issue #0 in the comics press dismissed it as "an array of senselessness. Themes are inane or non-existent and none seem to progress any sense of story."[3] However, the series was highly praised by other alternative comics creators including Mike Allred[4] and Jim Woodring, who wrote that "[i]t's full of stuff you don't want to think about too much, but it's so much fun to look at that you can't help but linger. [Columbia] does tricks with time and revelations that are shockingly deft."[5] A 1998 profile of Columbia in The Comics Journal called issue #0 "a big, visceral, and messy masterwork which shouted his arrival to the ranks of cartoonists-to-watch" and described issue #1 as "even better: focused and more cohesive, with a longer, more meaningful story begun for Columbia's best characters."[6] Writing in 2002, Kieron Gillen characterized the series as "comics transgression in its purest form."[7]

In the years since its publication The Biologic Show has been noted for its influence on other cartoonists and artists.[8][9] According to singer Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio, songs on two of the band's albums were partly inspired by the comic.[10] Singer and comic book writer Gerard Way spoke about the series in a 2009 segment for the G4 web show Fresh Ink Online, calling issue #0 "the most important comic to me in my collection" and singling out the story "Li'l Saint Anthony" for praise.[11] He also told an interviewer that his own work changed dramatically after he was exposed to the series.[12] In 2011 Frances Bean Cobain was photographed with a tattoo of an image of Columbia's character Seymour Sunshine taken from issue #1.[13]

Contents[edit]

Issue #0[edit]

  1. "No Tomorrow If I Must Return Starring Seymour Sunshine"
  2. "The Biologic Show"
  3. "Grinding Larry"
  4. "Over"
  5. "Extinction"
  6. "The Low-Born Peacock"
  7. "Li'l Saint Anthony"
  8. "Bruja"
  9. "Tar Frogs: A Pim and Francie Adventure"

Issue #1[edit]

  1. "Squiggly Things"
  2. "Peloria: Part One (A Pim and Francie Adventure)"
  3. Seymour Sunshine Debris
    1. "Slow Machine"
    2. "Castigian"
    3. "The Hellbound Bellydancer"
  4. "Ersatz (A Family Name)"

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Comics Comics". Comicscomicsmag.com. 2010-06-08. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 
  2. ^ "Zero Welcomes...". Zero Zero #4 August 1995, 40.
  3. ^ Aliberti, Vincent. Review of The Biologic Show No. 0. Crash: The Quarterly Comic Book Review Volume 1 #2, Winter 1995, 62.
  4. ^ Back cover, The Biologic Show #0, October 1994, Fantagraphics Books.
  5. ^ Woodring, Jim. "Muss I Den?", Jim Vol. 2 #5, May 1995, Fantagraphics Books.
  6. ^ Pryor, Marshall. "Young Cartoonist Profiles: Al Columbia", The Comics Journal #205, June 1998, 80.
  7. ^ Gillen, Kieron. "Everybody Be Cool: Crossing the Line". Ninth Art. Accessed June 6, 2012.
  8. ^ "THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (2/29/12 – Hot Young Things) | The Comics Journal". Tcj.com. 2012-02-28. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 
  9. ^ "Juxtapoz 15th Anniversary Art Auction » Aaron Horkey". Web.archive.org. 2009-09-17. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 
  10. ^ "Creative Time Comics". Creativetime.org. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 
  11. ^ "Fresh Ink Online With Gerard Way". G4tv.com. 2009-01-30. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 
  12. ^ "Enlisting In The Umbrella Academy". IGN. 2008-07-09. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 
  13. ^ "Parting Shot: Gorgeous Frances Bean Cobain Has an Al Columbia Tattoo". Comicsalliance.com. 2011-08-09. Retrieved 2013-10-08.