Once more we make our way down the well worn tunnels to the vast, cavernous library that houses The Official Root Beer Party Comic Archives. Hidden away in a maze of treacherous underground tunnels lies the bunker in which we preserve the greatest works of human history, the true legacy of the great human endeavor, our comics.
The shelves stand like monolithic slabs in the shadowy depths of the seemingly infinite cavern. It is as if the works of Jorge Luis Borges have been brought to life and the library of infinity expands and spirals all around us. Gleaming colors stand in stark contrast to the shadowy atmosphere as a small army of Root Beer Monks scuttle around maintaining the vast organizational system that controls the spiraling shelves of infinity.
Housed in the sealed Mylar bags along the shelf in the independent section lies today’s masterpiece of comic art. Today, we look at The Devil & Mr. Gandhi by the Root Beer Party’s own esteemed member Pat McCuen.
The Devil & Mr. Gandhi reminds me of the old underground comics of the 1960’s and 70’s. The age when Wally Wood, Bill Griffith, R. Crumb & Gilbert Shelton were publishing their own works in defiance of the comics code authority and really expanding the boundaries of what we call comics. Many people may not recall that comics had gone through a rough period where they were essentially reduced to gag a day newspaper comics and superheroes. These pioneers broke the mold and reimagined a world where any kind of story could be told through sequential art. They found a way to make it happen and Pat McCuen is following in that tradition and making his own masterpieces through his own publishing company, Ink Puddle Press.
The Devil & Mr. Gandhi, to me is the essential and never-ending moral debate between good and evil. What is right? What is wrong? One can easily distinguish these things and yet no one can define them. This timeless debate is set in an entertaining world of humor and along with Pat’s amazing artwork adds to the ongoing moral identity crisis established by Nietzsche in Beyond Good and Evil.
Here, the Devil plays his own advocate and Mr. Gandhi is the long suffering straight man to the Devil’s impulsive whims, but as we discover, the actions of all humanity come from the same whims and impulses whether perceived as good or evil. Despite the high minded underlying theme, the Devil & Mr. Gandhi delivers a “Hell” of an entertaining story and premise, as we follow them through the perils of pop culture and even a story in issue #2 where we travel through the history of modern comics as well.
You can check out this great comic here: http://www.devilandgandhi.com/ and buy a copy of the comics for yourself. You will not be disappointed. In this comic you can find many things, you can read a lot into the pages of dialog and sequential art about the great metaphysical debate or you can just enjoy it as an incredibly funny and inventive comic. It succeeds as both. Pat McCuen has created a true masterpiece in this work and I hope to see it continue for a long time to come.
Now, I carefully return the comics to the Mylar bags and hand them over to the nearest Root Beer Monk to be resealed and returned to the spiraling shelves. I gaze upwards into the blackness of infinity above as the towering shelves reach beyond my sight. I turn and leave the hallowed halls of mankind’s greatest achievement. The boundless treasures of the history of humanity are once again left in the hands of the scuttling Root Beer Monks who have a taken a vow to maintain this irreplaceable collection and preserve it as the only true legacy of mankind. Just as the shelves spiral into infinity, so too will the great works be protected ad infinitum for posterity.
As I emerge from the tunnel system the smell of vanilla, fennel and sassafras are caught in the wind from the flowing fields, ripening under the sun to make the ingredients for the elixir of life, root beer. I make my way to the brewery, sectioned away on the palatial estates of the Root Beer Party to sample today’s brew. There is nothing better after a long day of reading comics. So until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.