Writer: Fred Schwartz
Writer Fred Schwarz and his team take a long, wry look at gym culture in this new independent title, Hardbody. Borrowing heavily from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), Mr Schwartz wonders what are the aesthetic limits to physical perfection, and to what extent a person is willing to cheat.
Mr Schwartz has a very useful and relevant interlude, in which he travels back to Ancient Greek times and considers the Olympic athletes and their emphasis upon form. (Mr Schwartz sadly skips over the Italian Renaissance obsession with physicality, most famously depicted in Michelangelo’s statue of David, located in Florence.) From there, Mr Schwartz considers late 19th and early 20th century circus strongmen (the inspiration for comic book superheroes), and then the ongoing results of Venice Beach’s gym culture. In taking some time to set a historical scene, Mr Schwartz tells his audience that this is not a new phenomenon, and despite the comedic horror to the story, there is an episodic cultural underpinning to the story.
Mr Schwartz does what comedy does best: take a serious subject and give it a good dunking in ridiculousness. Drug cheating is indeed a serious subject, with surprisingly diverse views: The Economist recently wrote again berating drug cheats, changing a position in which it favoured drug use at the Olympics in 2004. In this comic, Mr Schwartz’s main character, Dr Vijay Mittel, decides to get ahead in his bodybuilding- quite literally, by collecting the best of the bodies of professional body builders, stitching them together, and placing his own head on top. Enraged by the latent steroids within the bodies of his victims, Dr Mittel goes on a rampage.
“He ain’t got no glutes!” is a similar criticism of Michelangelo’s David: recent studies have revealed that the statue has a hole where a muscle should be, and weak ankles. Hardbody is an entertaining, schlock horror read with what is, for the comic book genre, a unique message about the contemporary cultural fad of physical perfection.
Hardbody is available on Apple iTunes Books.