Imagine how happy that little old guy from the Monopoly game would be if he were to shed a few pounds, be crowned king, and have a harem of beautiful women at his disposal. Well, that's the basic set-up in The King of Persia, whose King Faisal is none too happy--he's lonely and looking for love. When Faisal wills his heart to a fair maiden who can talk to the animals, we're off on a slapsticky Arabian Nights-style adventure, replete with magic carpets, gigantic gems, and a snotty genie--all in a landscape that pays homage to Dr. Suess. Creator Walt Holcombe has a dichotomous sense of aesthetic; his characters are illustrated with a playful exaggeration reminiscent of Peter (Hate) Bagge's signature, but their erratic silliness is smoothed out, and made more elegant, in the slick style of Seth (Palookaville).
Holcombe's comic timing is unbeatable, heavily rooted in the absurdities of contrast and contradiction. An adventure to a faraway land resembles any number of Star Trek seduction episodes (old or new), yet the alluring woman we find ruling this land is a queen dressed in flapper fashions. Throughout the comic, this traditional fairytale world is plagued with cynical and cocky characters and chock full of modern day slang and 20th Century addictions like cigarettes, porn, and gambling. Throwing so much raw humor into the same pot has the potential to result in over-baked inanity. However, Holcombe's perception of balance is intuitive, perhaps even Libran, making his stories charming and playful, even as they're heavily peppered with drama and tragedy. Another winner funded by the Xeric Foundation! (Available from P.O. Box 49751, Austin, TX 78765)