Writer: Ivan L. Moody
Artist: Blake Armstrong
Publisher: Z2 Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A collection of poetry where creepy watercolor art and lettering work in tandem.
Think if a Tim Burton aesthetic meets the comic art of Andrea Mutti.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Dirty Poetry is a 104-page collection consisting of mainly short-form poetry, but with a few longer ones peppered in from the mind of Five Finger Death Punch frontman, Ivan Moody. The words feel like an expansion of the singer's lyrics which have long featured metaphor and a solid rhythmic pulse.
Each piece is accompanied by a potent, emotional watercolor illustration and scratchy lettering that makes each page feel like a short story. All three elements act in harmony like a typical comic book but stretch the boundaries of the medium in a unique way. Many of the works concern the push and pull of change, drawing upon the author’s experiences with addiction and fame as a musician. (Note: Moody long struggled with alcohol dependence and made many attempts at sobriety before successfully kicking his addiction in 2018 after a near-death experience.)
Moody has a unique, gritty style of poetry that maintains an excellent pulse. The writing is emotionally rich and feels authentic.
Armstrong’s combination of watercolor splatters and jagged lines give each poem extra depth and emotional weight.
His minimal palette of black with one or two colors provides excellent contrast and makes the linework incredibly striking.
Fellows’ scratchy, handwritten look in the letters and uneven sizing perfectly matches the art style and adds that extra bit of anxiety.
There’s a wide variety of moods presented in the poetry. Some pieces are hopeful while others are dark and depressing.
Unlike typical poetry collections where words and pictures are side by side, this book allows the art and words to mix together in creative ways.
The art itself is a masterclass on eerie watercolor art. Armstrong uses everything from clean brush strokes to chaotic drips and splatters within this book.
The writing, art, and lettering styles mesh cohesively creating a smooth read and unique visual aesthetic.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
Content Warning: Some of the art depicts graphic scenarios and a few of the poems discuss addiction and alcoholism. Moody also allegedly assaulted his wife in 2015.
At times, it’s unclear if successive pages are the same poem or new poems. Something more connective in the art or lettering could have helped.
The titles of the poems are a similar size and font to the rest of the words and would have been more helpful if they were more distinct.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Comics poetry is a small genre with endless possibilities. The combination of rhythmic, lyrical text and sequential art creates a unique experience. Dirty Poetry is an excellent example of how text and art can do more together to tell brief, emotional tales. The book sticks to shorter couplets and poems with a small number of stanzas, but manages to be thought-provoking and deep thanks to the marriage of art, poetry and lettering.
This can be best seen in how the motifs interact with each other. The art is not always a literal interpretation and gives additional story and depth. For example, color is a reoccurring theme in the poems but does not always match the art. One of the poems states "love is gray" but the art shows a man with a bleeding red heart. The two ideas of love work together to make a more complex emotion than either would separately.
For anyone looking to jump into a new genre and a unique presentation of sequential art, this is the book for you.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Any album by Five Finger Death Punch
Pink Dust by James O’Barr
What is Otherwise Infinite by Bianca Stone
If you like the art:
The Jester’s Curse by Scott Bramble & Blake Armstrong
Bunny Mask by Paul Tobin & Andrea Mutti
Mind MGMT by Matt Kindt
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Ivan L. Moody (@ivanmoody) – Writer
Moody is the lead singer of the heavy metal group Five Finger Death Punch.
Dirty Poetry is his debut publication.
He allegedly assaulted his wife in 2015, but has apparently gone to rehab since then and they are no longer together. Consider how you feel about this before reading.
Blake Armstrong (@spaceboycomics) - Artist
Primarily working in the film and music industry, Armstrong’s has designed work for several major motion pictures such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Spider-man: Far From Home and Ready Player One.
His art has also appeared on album covers for metal bands such as In Flames, Hypocrisy, and Kataklysm.
Andy C. Fellows – Letterer
Fellows' previous work includes the written lyric design for the In Flames album Battles.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Dirty Poetry characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright of Z2 Comics or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.