666 Bistro (#1 – 4) – Laura Graves

4 out of 5

Archy and Yuel are two demon lasses in ‘the pisshole’ of Hell – Dis – gathering foodstuffs (i.e. body parts) for the grand opening of… the 666 Bistro!  Except maybe Yuel’s promises of free food to her new patrons is just a sucker play such that she can eat them, so I’m not really sure of the longevity of their business plan.  Especially given that the Bistro would also seem to be a front for fueling the duo’s godmachine, which will somehow grant them exit from Dis.

That’s pretty much the end of any followable plotthreads.  Next, Yuel plays a video game which kills her, then turns into a giant demon form, which she battles as a ghost-turned-demon-kaiju, and then there’s some fourth wall breaking as both Archy and Yuel are reborn…  Aaand, no, I wouldn’t be surprised if Graves was making this up somewhat as she drew each issue, structuring her story around getting to draw butthole-themed arcade games and Yuel making out with herself, but instead of the relative randomness being a hindrance, it absolutely works with Graves’ frenetic, energized drawing style, which combines the tight detailing of James Stokoe – note the freaky food focus of issues 1 and 2 – with the nervy linework and perspectives of Johan Vasquez.  But the synthesis is Laura’s own; 666 Bistro belongs to a recognizable school of pencilers, sure, but the book is immediately established as its own thing, a mash-up of juvenile humor and odd puns and nonsense touches and then gloriously unleashed creativity, both in visuals and story.

It’s easy to get lost in a couple of places when the scale zooms out to a million and then back down to one, and the fourth-wall stuff in issue 4 seems more borne of boredom with trying to tie things up than anything grander, but we’re easily carried through these framing / writing hiccups by the energy of the whole project; 666 Bistro bristles with addictive weirdness and uniqueness.

A special nod to the colors: going with a bright, pink and blue palette, Laura employs somewhat flat shades of this to start, which still looks pretty great, but starts to find a glorious range within the colorwork by the fourth issue, which looks fantastic.