FROM THE “TOO FUNKY FOR WORDS” FILES:
A literal representation of the “World Of Hurt” from the mind and pen of the multi-talented, and very funny, Brian McLachlan.
For those of you who may not know, Brian is part of Transmission-X, the highly acclaimed webcomic collective that, among others, includes artists Karl (The Abominable Christopher Charles) Kerschl and Cameron (Sin Titulo) Stewart. Brian is the force behind the webcomic, The Princess Planet, a webcomic about the humorous exploits of the adventurous, bodysuit-clad Princess Christi and the the assortment of strange, goofy, and ridiculous inhabitants of her kingdom. It’s a strip that boasts a gentle, all-ages humor filled with hilarious, and sometimes groan-worthy, sight gags and puns. The clever wordplay and Brian’s great cartooning are signatures of The Princess Planet. (For a great five-star review by one of my favorite webcomic reviewers, El Santo of Webcomic Overlook, go here.)
Brian McLachlan was one of the first professional artists to contact me after I started WORLD OF HURT. He sent me a very kind and encouraging e-mail and told me of his own interest in Blaxploitation. He also mentioned that he was working on his own Blaxploitation-themed series, or as he called it, a “retrosexual exploitation style graphic novel” that he was planning on rolling out soon. After corresponding for a while, he sent me a digital version of the work-in-progress, a series called Smooth N’ Natural. I think it took me a while to respond to him after that, because my jaw broke the keyboard on its way to the floor.
Smooth N’ Natural takes place in an alternate world “…where the funk still flows and love is still free.” It follows the adventures of Luthor and Lucas Love, the sons of a the late Luscious Love, a legendary Lothario and ass-kicker. To paraphrase The Temptations, “Papa Love was a rolling stone,” who REALLY got around, so the Brothers Love are half-brothers born on the same night from different mothers. Lucas is the dark-skinned brother with the ‘Fro and facial hair of John Shaft. Luthor is a fair-skinned, like Allan Willis from The Jefferson. To use the vernacular, he could “pass.“ However, both men live up to their surname, because they inherited their late father’s sexual “mojo.” They also inherited his desire for righteous, two-fisted adventure and justice. Together, “the brothers from another mother” are kung-fu fightin’, head-busting trouble shooters.
The story takes place in an alternate world “…where the funk still flows and love is still free.” In essence, it’s like those old DC Comics featuring Phantom Lady and The Freedom Fighters who lived on a parallel Earth where World War II never ended and 1940s fashion never went out of style. In the case of Smooth ‘N Natural, the 1970s never ended. McLachlan has a great eye for the fashion and aesthetic of the 1970s, from the clothes to the furnishings in the apartments of the two brothers. However, he adds clever details, like a mobile phone with a rotary dial on its face, to reinforce the alternate world concept. McLachlan takes full advantage of the change in format and subject matter from The Princess Planet. Whereas The Princess Planet is an all-ages strip, McLachlan isn’t afraid to get a little racy and sexy in Smooth N’ Natural, with nudity and strong sexual situations, which is true to the spirit of the original Blaxploitation films. However, in the words of the Brian McLachlan himself, Smooth N’ Natural not only uses the best elements of Blaxploitation but he also blends it with a bit of “…other elements like Andy Sidaris movies and even some Bond stuff.” Also, the former strip contains mostly one-off strips or very short storylines, but in the material he sent me, Smooth N’ Natural seems to be built around much longer storylines, which are in the action-comedy vein. In many ways, Smooth N’ Natural is the spiritual cousin to Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca’s Afrodisiac, which I also loved.
I thought Smooth N’ Natural was an absolute blast, and I think you will, too. Fortunately, you’re in luck, because Brian is releasing Smooth N’ Natural as a webcomic. He will officially debut it next month at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, but you can check it out now at www.smoothnnatural.com. Be sure to check it out, bookmark it, and then spread the word.