Jeff Smith's comic RASL

Ed. Note: Boing Boing's current guestblogger Clay Shirky is the author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. He teaches at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU, where he works on the overlap of social and technological networks.

One day, back when I was 17 and a Zep-head, my girlfriend popped a tape into the car dash, and this sound came out. It was my first time hearing the Violent Femmes, and their songs were everything that Led Zeppelin's had stopped being -- simple, direct, urgent, short. I was reminded of that moment when I came across Jeff "Bone" Smith's new comic RASL.

In the year of "Watchmen: The Movie", it's great to see something this simple. It's a cat-and-mouse story whose protagonist is an art thief with a getaway device that is part teleporter, part subtle knife, being pursued across various universes by a lizard-like human with a gun but not, so far, very good aim.

The back story would fit on an index card, there is about as much sub-plot as there is vermouth in a martini, and the graphic style looks like something you'd draw on a napkin, if you were really good at drawing on napkins. (The gun, for further old skool cred, even goes "Pow Pow Pow".)

It's a black and white rendering of a very 'shades of gray' world; by my count, every character but one is deeply morally compromised, and the one exception suffers because of it. It's also written and drawn by the same person, and an issue costs less than a Grande Frappuccino (there are three out so far; the next one is in Spring 09). In an era when creating a graphic novel can occupy a staff the size of a B1 bomber crew, its great to see a single person trying to tell a simple story well.

Smith's Site | RASL on Heavy Ink

Clay Shirky Boing Boing Guestblog posts:

* Video from the Presidential Campaign, Republican Division
* Jeff Smith's comic RASL
* Publish Without Perishing
* Here Comes Clay Shirky (The Changing of the Guestbloggers)



  1. RASL is so great, but it only comes out once in a blue moon. The next issue won’t be out until March (I think). I have to reread the previous issues when a new one comes out (but maybe that’s Smith’s plan).

  2. Wait – WHEN were you 17, Violent Femmes existed, and Led Zeppelin *used* to be ‘simple, direct, urgent, short’?

    Last I checked, “Stairway to Heaven” was 1971, and if THAT is what you call ‘short’…

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