The Auteur is a comic that desperately wants to be funny and satirical and fails at both.
Nathan T. Rex is a hot Hollywood producer whose films have been enormously successful. Except for his latest movie, Cosmos, which is the first in a trilogy of movies already filmed and costing the studio half a billion dollars - Cosmos is flopping and T. Rex needs a hit soon to restore his rep. So he stumbles across a pitch for President’s Day, a slasher flick with Abe Lincoln as the killer, but it’s not enough - the movie needs to be stand out, so he hires a real serial killer as his murder consultant. And then things really go off the rails…
I’m a big Warren Ellis fan and loved his and Darick Robertson’s Vertigo series, Transmetropolitan. If you’ve read those books, you too might notice quite a resemblance between T. Rex’s personality and Spider Jerusalem’s. They’re both drug-taking loons whose moods go up and down like a roller coaster as they barrel through their chaotic lives.
But while Spider’s story had a whiff of nobility (among other things) as he was an outlaw journo taking down a corrupt presidency, T. Rex is just a hack producer who wants to get with a big-bottomed woman. Seriously - that’s his motivation for the entire book. He sees a “big black ass” (his words) and the story goes from being about a serial killer on the set of a slasher movie actually killing the actors, to becoming the most pitiful excuse for a love story - no, it’s a lust story - ever. At no point are you rooting for this unpleasant man or hoping he gets anywhere near the “bubble butt” of his dreams.
Unpleasant is a good word to describe the “humour” of this book. One of the issues opens with T. Rex’s analysis of the various kinds of boobs women have - sides split yet? Or the howler when he spikes his “love interest”’s drink with hallucinogenics (why did she give him another chance after that again?). How about that the book starts with him metaphorically swimming through the waters of creativity (he’s actually on drugs) looking for something “deep” and “meaningful” and only coming up with a different president to be the killer - geddit, he’s parodying Hollywood’s lack of ideas! And that’s another thing - can you satirise Hollywood anymore? It’s basically become it’s own joke, hasn’t it? Talk about low hanging fruit.
James Callahan’s art is quite good. It’s high level of detail reminded me of the great Geof Darrow’s work and Luigi Anderson’s bright colours were well suited to the druggy, hallucinatory scenes. And I do like the energy of the comic, it’s just such a shame that the main character is someone you immediately hate and then go on to loathe.
The film industry often produces shallow, boring, artless crap so it’s ironic that The Auteur itself becomes the very thing it wanted, and failed, to satirise.