All the way from the famed and farmed lands of Oshkosh, Wis., Barrel House washes up on our shores and is way more fun than a barrel of… well, houses. A comic with a vaguely surrealist slant, Barrel House tells the tale of a shock-haired teenage protagonist (name withheld) and his lame-o boss, Arnold Pederson. Through a series of smallish efforts, our hero begins to associate Pederson with professional kook and killer John Wayne Gacy. A few other characters enter the tale and the whole mess ultimately descends into a dripping, drooling ball of adolescent dementia. In fact, there may or may not be death involved. Barrel House’s creator R. Lee has more than a bit of R. Crumb in him, right down to the first initial and the self-loathing. This comic works because while the story is slanted and unnerving, the presentation is crisp, clean and pleasing to the eye. Fonts are kept strong and upright, drawings enjoy sharp contrast and the story is loopy yet linear. It’s not easy to keep things weird but also manageable for the reader, but Lee manages to turn the trick and, above all else, there’s plenty of evidence that Barrel House was well planned and well arranged. (Cameron Gordon)
Comic zine, R. Lee, $2, 28 pgs, P.O. Box 1421, Oshkosh, WI, 54903, U.S.A.