Vertical (2003)
by Steven T. Seagle, Mike Allred, Philip Bond, and Laura Allred

Brilliantly executed one-off concerning Brando Bale and Zilly Kane – two fictional denizens of Andy Warhol's Factory world in the late 60s. Zilly's a wannabe superstar, while Brando's talent is jumping off buildings!

The book uses a vertical format (it's about 3 inches wide and ten inches tall … you can supply your own dick joke, I'm too lazy) to dramatize Brando's "falling" – falling off buildings, and falling in love. He and Zilly both have good reasons to fight love's gravitational pull, but their mutual encounter allows them both to jump off the edge of fear and see whether their hearts will provide a parachute.

The content is outstanding, depicting a setting you normally don't see in comics, with characters that manage to develop quite deeply despite the short stretch of time we get to know them. Steven Seagle's writing is leagues more intelligent than you generally find in comics – informed and hip, but emotional, and indeed, spiritual as well. He couldn't have a better match for the artwork than Mike Allred, whose work on The Atomics and X-Statix has always demonstrated a keen eye for witty cultural iconography. The result, quite unexpectedly, is beautiful, using a fabric of hipness, sure, but delivering a surprising depth of emotion.

Vertical could have been just a gimmick – ha, a story with a downwardly vertical trajectory that uses a downwardly vertical format. But in the hands of Seagle and Allred, it's nothing you can dismiss so easily. It's precisely the sort of comic I exalt when one comes along, for being one more bit of ammunition I can use when someone says comics are a waste of time. The excellence and beauty of Vertical is something anyone can connect to straight away. Plus, when people see how cool it is, they're more forgiving about my unfortunate affinity for Catwoman.

Review by Short Shortman