Image Comics’ The Beef #1 is a fantastically weird comic that is equal parts Silver Age fun and indie comics attitude and execution.
The Beef #1
‘Tainted Love’ part 1
Written by: Richard Starkings & Tyler Shainline
Art and Coloring by: Shaky Kane
Lettered by: Richard Starkings
Design: John Roshell
Chuck is a mild-mannered meat factory worker who is a little in love with a strawberry picker named Mary Lynn. But everything changes when Mary Lynn falls victim to the Vodino Brothers.
It’s best to go into The Beef blind. The story that Richard Starkings and Tyler Shainline crafted seems simple enough; a small town where a slaughterhouse is the biggest thing in town. But it’s executed in such a bizarre way that it comes off as more surreal. The dialogue is often crude and blunt, especially the words ballooning out of villains the Vodino Brothers. The omniscient narration is equally harsh.
Protagonist Chuck Carter is appealing and relatable. We get to see him as both a child and an adult, a detail that creates a more developed character.
And without revealing much, there is something that happens that twists this story at the end. It really hooks you in and demands you read the second issue.
Shaky Kane’s art is not only incredible, it’s integral to the success of the book. The line work and design have a definite indie comics vibe, think Daniel Clowes or The Hernandez Bros. The color palette is heavy on the primary colors but coupled with the pencils, it creates everything from the garish to the sublime. When the images depict violence, it’s also more shocking because of that ‘simplicity’.
The lettering, also by writer Starkings, is very clean and bold. It goes hand in hand with the tone of the art.
The Beef #1 is not going to be for everyone. It may be too off-putting for some. But if you enjoy a bite of the surreal every now and then this will taste just right for you. Give something different a try and read The Beef #1.