Fusing giallo with a children’s film concept (people must stay in hamster-ball-like bubbles because of a disease) is an unexpected and brilliant idea. The darkness of the tropes in the giallo genre also keep things from getting too cartoony.
The book functions like a fast-paced thriller, although I do wish certain giallo elements had been played up more, particularly the elaborate death scenes of Argento–although I’m not sure if this would’ve worked on the page.
The explanation and inner-workings of the devious Kill Ball are unexpected and imaginative. The imagery of the narrator and Siren’s evolved bodies was also original.
Carlton Mellick III certainly has a knack for balancing conventional structures with bizzare and outlandish ideas. He states in his introduction to this book that he considers it to be a satire of the giallo genre. It definitely has its share of comedic moments, particularly early on where I chuckled at least a few times (people making fun of each other for how they chose to dress their balls). Kill Ball also contains its fair share of horror movie imagery, yet also resembles a comedy in which one cares about the characters (something like Superbad or Planes, Trains, and Automobiles).
Buy and read Kill Ball.
Armadillo Fists has a non-linear structure but is still incredibly easy to follow. The concept is both bizarre and funny. I especially liked the ideas of “Dop”(doppelgänger) conventions, having living armadillos for hands, driving dinosaur-shaped cars, and a legless and armless character who, over the course of the book, became quite likable while remaining funny.
Armadillo Fists owes just a little bit to Reservoir Dogs (and Carlton Mellick III acknowledges his debt to Quentin Tarantino in the introduction, in addition to Neil Gaiman’s “urban fantasy” works (this seemed less apparent, although the only “urban fantasy” work of his I’ve read is Neverwhere)), but the influence is slight and does not detract from this work’s utter originality.
I did grow a bit bored during some of the sections of cartoonish violence, but Carlton Mellick III has a way of introducing consistent surprises and unexpected concepts to keep the pages turning and reader feeling both time and money were well spent.
Find out more about Carlton Mellick III’s work here.
This one can be read in a single enjoyable sitting. The image of the egg man is one I’ll not soon forget. The post-apocalyptic setting is similar to Crab Town–and, to a lesser extent, Warrior Wolf Women of The Wasteland–but the concept is completely different here.
Society has been divided into different classes based on sensory ability (smell, touch, sight, etc.). There is a palpable sense of dread in the day-to-day experiences of our doomed but all-too-human protagonist: his neighbors are unfriendly and secretive, except for a crude woman he caught giving birth to thousands of flies.
I read somewhere that Carlton Mellick III fully advocates following the heroic journey structure. I thought about this as I read this book. Despite its wacky premise and grotesque imagery, it is clear that Carlton Mellick III follows this structure. But, then again, as rooted as this structure is in classic myth perhaps when we talk about storytelling we are really talking about the heroic journey structure.
Anyway, I was absorbed by the story in The Egg Man the entire time. And, despite following the heroic journey structure, I would not argue that this story is predictable.
Its simple, direct style with its odd premise and rule-playing structure makes it read like a fairy tale for adults.
See what Carlton Mellick III is writing with his furiously unstoppable pen and boundless imagination here.