(commission for Craig Grant) 


It is with some excitement that I anticipate this comic Tongue*Lash as sequel to 1994's original two part series. At the time I was going through something of a Moebius realisation - I had been aware of his work but not till then had I really stopped and thought "wow", this guy is really good. Randy and Jean-Marc seem to have been working with Moebius for some time and are part of his Starwatcher studio. Going through some portfolio work, they came across a couple of pictures which inspired them to do Tongue*Lash. Having done that, they then got Dave Taylor aboard as artist, which Dave explains in an interview at the back of this issue.

Tongue*Lash is set in a projected reality - going back to Mayan cultures of the past and then extrapolating their history in a different direction. The harsh and brutal Europeans never arrived to destroy what they had and their culture full of science/mysticism has evolved in to modern day. Floating vehicles, animal headed people - all fitting in to the strange caste systems, religious orders and cult gatherings. The land is ruled by six families who form the all powerful and unstoppable nobility - the only people with the key into other worlds. Tongue is a woman slated to become first handmaiden to Yatan - but is too unconventional for that and has taken up with Lash. Lash is an ex-member of the Qaholom (the equivalent of a police force) and Tongue's partner. Both having rejected their preordained roles, work as pseudo investigators in this society, which is strange and complex to us but life to them.

Notorious for their work, they are approached by a mouse headed servant of one of the Lords who wants them to do some work for him. Arriving at his house they find him and his Lady both dead which immediately brings them under the scrutiny of the authorities they have rejected and had too many run-ins with before. They are warned off the case but disregard this advice to investigate anyway, which brings them to the attention of the Lord's mother who is powerful in the structure of the six families.

The plotting of these works by the Lofficiers is remarkable for its density. While these comics have been immensely readable, so much in terms of history and background has been worked in, with this being only the third issue to date. The structure of the society and the castes and cults that work under it all have histories and mannerisms - all strangely exotic and compulsively intriguing. Taylor's art is a pleasure on the eyes - sharing some similarities with Moebius's, but as many would point out, this can also be interpreted as him having a definite ability himself. As Taylor points out, the shared part of their work stems from the fact that they are not using the conventional American style - instead the art has a much higher European influence, which is more exotic and striking than the run of the mill. Enhancing Taylor's pencil work is the colouring skills of Scarlett Smulkowski, an area of comics which is often underestimated but is clearly an integral part here with the exotic people and hybrids that crop up.

There are definite sexual tones to this title - but again that is part of the exoticness of a culture which included sacrifices and was no doubt more open about sexuality than much of modern western culture. The men like Lash where pristine suits accompanied by leather bondage masks which they never take off, while Tongue wears a variety of outfits which enhance and emphasize her obvious sexuality. But unlike our world these fashion statements do not mark them out, rather they are integral to the environment. As much a part of the story as people with the heads of mice, frogs or cats - or people with blue or purple skin and ceremonial tattooing and piercing. As I say, Tongue*Lash is exotic and intriguing - full of texture and detail compelling in its unfortunate brevity. As with anything, the joy of Tongue*Lash would fade if I could get it all the time - but at this point I sit waiting impatiently for the conclusion of this story and am already asking the question as to whether I can have some more, please?

February 1999

Preparation. Sit down and select a comic from the handful of fresh purchases. Tongue*Lash II comes to hand eagerly. Place it in front of you. To the side is a selection of CDs - picking out the Body Frequencies compilation and pressing play. The two selections are made independently but as the brain is engaged on the two input levels I find that they are quite suited to each other. Tongue*Lash by the Lofficiers1, Taylor and Smulkowski - featuring strange sex rituals, eclectic and interesting people with a range of body modifications from comic company Dark Horse2. While Body Frequencies (tattoo/piercing/scarification) is a compilation from the Italian label Minus Habens(3) - featuring sounds for strange sex rituals and the bodily modified.

But hey that's a tangential plug (particularly watch for Nightmare Lodge Tenia, In Zhe Gaza Megakitsch Une Soiree A La Plage, Origami The Sensation Of... and DivePower Of Passion) and we should stick to the matter of hand. Perhaps this is a redundant review - after all everyone will already have picked up this excellent two part series after my review of the first issue - in fact that first issue was my first re:mote tip to our subscribers. But for completeness and in case anyone missed out - here we are.

We start with Tongue and Lash discussing what they know about the case so far - against a background of an exotic club (listen to the sounds of that music - oops sorry only I can hear that...). This is a handy plot refresher before we move on in search for more clues as to the twin hanging of the first issue. Lash goes off to "interrogate" T'Onyx, the cat-headed prostitute, about her relations with Jewel. With this, revelations are made of dire and mystical plots on all sides of the love triangle, involving the powers of the great families and ancient evils. This leads Tongue and Lash to the mysterious Meta-time using the ring secured in the first series - offering some of this comics strangest scenes.

As with the first issue the colours and art are lush and exciting. Check out Tongue's dress and that oily sheen. Check out the expressiveness of Lash's mask. Again the plot adds context and raps up the story well. On top of that there is another text story of Tongue and Lash's early days followed by an interview with Jean-Marc and Randy. Finally there are a couple of T-shirt designs - something both covers would be perfect for.

April 1999

Tongue*Lash (c) 1997 Lofficier/Taylor