5 out of 5
There are several of these “monster manual” type affairs floating around the indie realm, in which made up creatures are catalogued in a type of codex. Sometimes they have fascinating art, but are accompanied by rather mundane or random feeling ideas. Sometimes it’s flopped, with some great concepts but erring on the amateur side of artistry. And then many are compilation comics, one writer to many artists or vice versa, and so it’s a mixed bag.
The Home of the Headhunter is a compilation, but an inspired one: teaming up with musician Lynxx, a.k.a. Christian Kriegeskotte, artist / creator Michael Koehler has, according to his intro, produced a synthesis of creativity in which the music influenced the book and the book influenced the music. Including a cassette with your indie book may make eyes roll, but it feels wholly considered: the art and design of the cassette is in line with the book, and its electronic ambient soundscapes do come across as a legitimate soundtrack for your wild journey through the art and text, as opposed to a showy sidepiece that just happens to come bundled with a comic. That same sense of consideration extends throughout the whole thing: Koehler has a wonderfully flush style that calls to mind Michael Deforge and the like – flat, but detailed artistry – with his depictions having a nice blend of garishness and quaintness to them. We get to know the Zodoso race, which hunts giants in order to “transform” their severed heads into multi-dimensional homes, and then our pages are dedicated to a level-by-level breakdown (mapping to tracks on the album) of that home. It’s fascinating as heck because Koehler takes it seriously, and instead of just throwing random verbiage at us, connects the different levels with some internal logic regarding how it actually functions as living quarters. This doesn’t mean we’re stuck in pseudo-science, as there’s magic and whatnot, but it’s immediately grabbing in that each piece of this culture feels touched on, even though the comic is only a handful of pages.
A very professional, very weird, very awesome book.