Blast Furnace: Recreational Thief


CREDIT: Ryan Browne

Review: 5/5 – An Experiment in Ridiculousness Pays Off for the Creator of God Hates Astronauts
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow

Fans and participants of 24-Hour Comic Book Day, take note. Ryan Browne has just upped the ante. In what can perhaps be called a bold yet foolhardy experiment, Browne set out to create a story with the following restrictions: He could only spend one hour on each page with zero planning ahead of time. Basically he sat down at his art desk and simply began scribbling and stopped when the clock hit 60 minutes later. Then he did another page. Then another. 280 pages later, he’d created Blast Furnace, which might be the most awkwardly plotted, crazily drawn thing I’ve ever read.

At the same time, it might be the best thing I’ve read in years.

While poring over each hastily-drawn page, as the story itself got more and more ridiculous – he had me at an ostrich wanting to watch porn on pay-per-view while being put up in a cheap motel – the grin on my face kept getting bigger and bigger. This was the comic my 13-year old id most likely would have written. Unencumbered by things like continuity, stereotypes, or an excessive need for technology to clean things up, this book takes an adult reader’s mind to places it probably hasn’t been in years. It’s a sloppy mess that’s all over the place, and at the same time it’s a beautiful throwback to why we read these funnybooks in the first place.

I can’t explain the plot. I don’t even believe Browne can explain it. It’s a stream-of-consciousness trip that should give many artists pause to wonder what possible excuse they can put up against not completing their own works. In the equivalent of roughly 11 days, Browne created a complete graphic novel (barring extra time for coloring and publishing it). What’s holding everyone else back? What’s holding you back, if you have it in you to create and tell your own story?

Of course the book will not be for everyone. Many will find it to be juvenile, incoherent, and without any sort of structure. Anyone able to get beyond those hurdles, however, will see this book for what it really is: A love-letter to anyone who ever put a ballpoint pen down on a piece of notebook paper back in school and tried to make something with it. If you’re one of those people, seek this book out. The Kickstarter edition I backed (getting in on the $25 early-bird special) included a random sketch (and I do mean random!) on the first page as well as a poster, postcard, and sticker. Without all those extras, it was still worth picking up.

Reviewed by: Al Sparrow
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