In this first 40-page, magazine-size issue of What the Actual, Jai Granofsky continues in the tradition inaugurated by the young R. Crumb (and Justin Green) – and to our eyes, most directly in the lineage of the young Chester Brown – of letting one's inner demons loose on the page to battle it out amongst themselves. Anxieties and fears mix it up with mangled memories and deliberate absurdities to forge a comics portrait of Granofsky's psychic state, which, naturally, reflects the era and culture of his upbringing and so partakes in realities that we all share to varying degrees and thus provides its readers with a portraits of parts of their own psychic states; and there lies its value.
While clearly the work of someone who is still trying to find their voice, this issue shows promise (which is also explicitly stated in the opening creator's note, when Granofsky writes, "I plan on making this a regular thing."). Comics readers who are on the lookout for the next Eightball or Yummy Fur should take a chance and check this out... and then keep their fingers crossed while waiting for the next issue, which we hope is in the works, as planned.
Black and white interiors, with full color covers (and inside covers!).
What the Actual returns with an intriguing issue that is better read than explained. The cover statement that this is "a new grindhouse comic" will point you in the right direction, as the structure of this issue likely owes something to Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, but the felxibility of the comic book form combined with Granofsky's instinctive understanding of how it is read will provide readers of this issue with plenty of surprising – and clever – twists. Please be forewarned that there's a decent amount of gratuitous cartooned crudity, violence and gore that is central to Granofsky's sense of humor. So, yes, this book is funny, in a dark, angry sort of way. Long term, hard core comic book readers are likely to get a kick out this issue, which runs 36 magazine size pages, guts are black and white, with covers and inside covers in full color – but it's definitely not for everyone.