‘Mesmo Delivery: 2nd Edition’ – Advance Hardcover Review

Rafael Grampá has a very distinct artistic style.  Mesmo Delivery, which Grampá wrote, drew, and co-colored with Marcus Penna, is the first I have seen of his work, but it relays a deeply established style and skill that I am sure will develop even more over time.  Mesmo Delivery is a simple, mysterious story, violent but with a kind of gritty, almost ugly, beauty that threatens to overwhelm you at first, only to grow on you as the story progresses.  Appearing deceptively straightforward on the surface, the tale of two truckers delivering an unknown cargo to an undisclosed destination, Grampá slowly reveals through short flashbacks the underpinnings of the characters and the true, but still very enigmatic, nature of their task.  Most intriguing, you begin to realize that the person you think is the main character actually is not, but merely a pawn. The real fun, though, is in imagining what happens after the story ends. Once we grasp the rundown of the story, the gravity of the endgame hits you, and you find yourself excitedly asking, "But, what if things don't go according to plan like they were thinking?" That vastness of possibility is incredibly entertaining, because your imagination takes that thought and just runs with it, making Mesmo Delivery much larger than its original conceit.

Mesmo Delivery is very minimal and that's okay, and in an interesting supplemental section, full of sketches and notes, Grampá talks about the germ for his story and what he wanted to accomplish with the book. He is working in minimalism but with exquisitely detailed art. The art is full of details and minutiae, from the characters themselves to the locations, of which there are only a few, to the backgrounds with all of their signage and destructive aftermath.  Somehow, the two perfectly complement each other, and, by the end, you are begging for more, and that is where Grampá relinquishes the future of his characters to your imagination.  Grampá's art is remarkably intricate, full of lines and wrinkles and insane textures.  His characters look alive and world weary, like they've seen it all.  The art starts out very passive, just showing and introducing us to the characters as they sit and talk and brag, then, without warning, the art explodes into incredible action and violence. And then, somehow, Grampá tops that explosion with an even bigger, more outrageous outpouring of unexpected and inspired mayhem.

The violence in Mesmo Delivery is phenomenal and over the top and makes you gasp and smile all at once.  This book is not for the faint of heart or easily squeamish, or those who want their stories wrapped up neatly with a little bow.  Grampá pulls off multiple surprise reveals, some through the art and others through the storytelling, and it is intriguing to see how he chooses to express the subtle complexities of his plot and characters.  The colors are dour and drab, so that when blood enters into the story, it truly pops, putting the gruesomeness on full display and almost creating a map of the carnage.  Also, Rafa Coutinho’s lettering is almost a character in itself, especially when it fills the background, swelling with the action, and becomes almost indecipherable because it so much larger than life, with all of its shape-shifting elaborateness. 

Memso Delivery will get under your skin.  It will shock and amaze you, make you laugh, and make you grimace.  But, above all, it will make you remember the name Rafael Grampá and probably stop you from starting a fight the next time you find yourself at a truck stop.

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