James Harvey is a name I’d not heard of before seeing Masterplasty while skimming through the new releases on Comixology, After this, it’s a name I’ll be paying attention to because Masterplasty is bloody brilliant stuff, and yes, it is very, very heavily influenced by Jamie Hewlett, who himself was very, very heavily influenced by the great Brendan McCarthy. There’s a heavy Japanese influence in Harvey’s work as well as European artists, but there is his own distinct style heavily on display which helps create some wonderful pages of comics.
As for the story, here’s the official synopsis:
A young man decides to leave his college girlfriend after getting a new medical technique which drastically modifies the physical appearance of the human body in ways both beautiful and hideous. Will changing the outside change what’s within?
The main character is a superficial paranoid arsehole who thinks embarking on a dangerous and untested medical procedure to change how he looks will make his life better. This procedure involves sticking a prong in your brain which shifts the body until you settle on a shape and style, but the catch is you only have an hour to settle on a shape.
This means our hero becomes a Basil Wolverton caricature, but after three attempts he gets the face he wanted, though he’s still a massive arsehole as he finds out being handsome and successful isn’t all he thought it would be.
Masterplasty is a lovely little twisted morality tale that serves as an introduction for what is essentially a compilation of Harvey’s work which includes a tale of Noah that you won’t see told in the Bible, and some of his sketches and ideas. I will say Harvey is a raw talent that will develop and hopefully round off some of the rougher edges in his work but it’s refreshing to see someone like Harvey get a break at Image Comics, who right now are publishing some amazing material in the mainstream comics scene.
My only real niggle is that the comic is a tad overpriced (as are too many comics these days) but that aside, Masterplasty is a comic well worth picking up.