The second issue of Mitch Clem's Turnstile Comix features World/Inferno Friendship Society. If there was ever a band deserving of preservation through larger than life comic story telling, it's the World/Inferno.
Using Inferno leader Jack Terricloth as the source for these stories, and using former Inferno member Lucky Strano as a fact checker, Clem reconstructs two particularly riotous World/Inferno adventures. Fittingly, the first story retells the classic tale of World/Inferno vs. Snapcase, which while proving that truth is stranger than fiction, is more like an action comic book than most action based comic books. The second story, in contrast to the first, tells the tale of Inferno vs. a scared, confused concert and vengeful concert promoter.
Clem's art is spacious and characteristic of his style. A mix of modern alt-comix, classic Fleischer cartooning and an untrained hand (which gives the art a refreshing uniqueness), Clem's drawings are uniquely Clem, giving the comic a homemade feel which also seems to be expertly crafted. Still, because Clem operates in the less-is-more school, sometimes the faces of the Infernites are a little too plain, causing them to blend together. Likewise, the book opens with a intro from Clem explaining the idea behind the book. Because the book is obviously stories of Inferno from the road, the intro is unnecessary, if harmless. Still, Clem leaves his personal style of serious storytelling with brief departures to Airplane!-style humor which works well and has faded away in modern comedy.
The accompanying seven-inch, which includes two songs and a download of a third, is something of radical departure from Inferno's last studio recording, The Anarchy and the Ecstasy. Yet again, the lineup of the band has undergone a significant change from the previous release. Terricloth has routinely stressed that the Inferno lineup doesn't change because there is no lineup, just a group of people that happened to be around the day of recording. While his depiction is certainly more accurate than our historical-band-reconstruction-through-credits, it's hard to not view the Terricloth-Hess-Malak-Nicolay-Strano-Kotch-Corrigan-Beeri-Bailey lineup as the "Classic Infenro" lineup and compare that stage of the band against the most recent incarnation.
While Anarchy featured mostly reflective, moderately paced songs, the three new ones are more extreme in all attributes. "The Faster You Go The Better You Think" references the Cramps' "Wilder Wilder Faster Faster" and lunges forward with a booming sax and charging guitar. Meanwhile Terricloth, whose voice is still in top shape, sings over the top in his velvety punk voice and again salutes a lifestyle of anarchy and chaos through abstractions. It's classic Inferno and one of the hardest-hitting things they have ever released.
"Second Chance Saloon" features the band saluting their speakeasy influences. As a swinging piano pings in the background, a full brass line booms in the front. Again, the band highlight history through example: The song details getting out of a jam, be it legal or social, and thus shows that while many people think of the 1920s with amber-tinted hue, there were wild dudes back then just like there are now, and the swingin' cats in zoot suits and the Don Juans on stage were up to some pretty crazy shit.
The bonus track "Pickles and Gin" calls back to Inferno's earliest days with a sort of Celtic fiddle feel that when removed form the band, could have easily fit on the first two Dexy's Midnight Runners records. Being that WI/FS are aficionados of that band, and that a few Dexy's members were briefly in WI/FS, the Northern Soul meets UK Pagan melody fits together like a glove. It's smooth but just as dangerous. How apropos.
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