Post Hype Machine: The Style and Substance of Zander Cannon’s Kaijumax

The comic industry has a short memory, as titles are
hyped on the approach to their first issue and often forgotten shortly
thereafter. On to the next is the typical mindset, with what’s new leading the
way for readers, comic sites and beyond. Post Hype Machine is a recurring
column on SKTCHD built to move against that trend, as it will exclusively be
looks at – that’s right, I’m not calling it a review, I’m calling it a “look
at” – titles in their second arcs or later.

Style is a funny thing.

It’s something we make important determinations off of, yet ultimately, it doesn’t represent the totality of something, whether you’re talking a fashionably dressed person, a restaurant with a great vibe, or, in some cases, a comic book. It’s inherently subjective even if it does fuel misconceptions, creating errant ideas about something when reality is often much different.

The cover to Kaijumax Season One, art by Zander Cannon

Take Zander Cannon’s Kaijumax, for example. If there’s one thing you can be certain of involving this Oni Press series about a supermax prison for big monsters, it’s that if someone writes about it, the word “cartoon” in some form – “cartoony,” “cartoonish,” “cartoon-like,” etc. – will be used to describe its bright colors and monsters with softened edges. And hey, if the shoe fits. It is an accurate descriptor, to a degree. But that phrase is also frequently used as a diminishing statement for artists with styles like Cannon’s, a label that explains why someone chooses to pass on reading a series with that kind of look. “I can’t get into the art,” someone might say. “It’s too cartoony.” That’s something other artists face as well, but with Kaijumax, it’s a notably egregious mistake because of the other “S” word often associated with style: substance.

To pass on reading Kaijumax because Cannon’s style doesn’t jive with you would be doing yourself a tremendous disservice, as style is subjective, but substance? It’s universal. And Kaijumax? It has enough substance that I could draw it and it’d be worth a read. With Cannon’s masterful storytelling and outrageously deep world-building forming the foundation for this series, though, it isn’t simply a good comic, but the finest series you can find in comics today.

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  1. i.e. “God” becomes “Goj,” or “fucking” becomes “redking.”

  2. In this house, we protect Daniel.

  3. We’re only one issue in, but come on: death row plus my guy Daniel as a proper goat is basically cheating at this point.

  4. For example, the fifth season kicked off with kaiju playing an approximation of the Pokemon concept but with humans as the pocket monsters, fighting each other in a ring with all of the game language used to guide these battles. It was brilliant.

  5. It also made it easier to make an Electrogor plush!