Joe R. Lansdale & Keith Lansdale
Short, Scary Tales Publications
Publication Date: September 30, 2020
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis
When Joe Lansdale sent out a call for reviewers of Big Lizard, I jumped on it faster than a bullfrog slurping up a blue tailed fly. The projects that Joe has done with his highly talented children have been a treat for both readers and the writers, alike. Many of you will recognize Joe’s iconic writing style, but as it has been with daughter Kasey, combining his storyteller mojo with Keith’s exuberance brings about a new flavor. Big Lizard does not disappoint. In fact, it’s absolutely delightful and what we expect when we hear that family name. This book is a rocket-fueled blast of fun and suspense that elevates a group of people who’ve fallen on hard times into legend.
The concept of a Big Lizard superhero who doesn’t have a rich, handsome alter ego is perfect. I mean, come on now! We regular folks need someone we can relate to. Superman is damn near indestructible and will potentially live forever. Batman may be mortal, but he’s handsome, witty, and richer than a chocolate lava cake with caramel drizzle and whipped cream. The hero of this tale, Buster Nix, looks more like a chocolate lava cake that’s eaten all the whipped cream. He can barely pay his rent, the cable TV has been shut off, and his car is a 1983 Honda Civic that goes from zero to sixty in maybe 15 minutes, or some such.
So how the hell does a hefty fellow with trick knees and a bad hip become a superhero? Well, he starts off by taking a job as a security guard for a fun place called Pick-A-Chicken, where dinner begins with the violent death of a chicken. Yum! As his new boss, Ellroy Cuzzins shows him this funky new concept in dining, Buster is wondering how great a choice this joint is. But a job’s a job right? Cash coming in means gas in the tank and a few bucks in the bank. So our hero goes on to fame and fortune, to become the black Colonel Sanders and life is fantastic!
No, Nope, Nonsense. What Buster does is set the whole damn place on fire and burns it to the ground. He hates the senseless killing of chickens, the food sucks, and even gives his dinner to a homeless guy. Buster may be a failure and a bumbler, but he’s got a good heart. Truth is, the fire was an accident and Buster nearly catches his death. Instead, he gets what’s behind door number two. What have we got for him, Johnny?
“Buster Nix you get the ability to change into a Big Lizard when necessary! In times of danger, when fear’s no stranger, you’ll be stronger, faster, and unbeatable. However, your wing wang will also be huge and flap around in the breeze. So make sure to cover it, please! I mean we got women and children here and stuff.”
Take a look at the cover photo. That’s Buster wearing a red cocktail dress while saving two children from a fire. A little unique, but he’s keeping himself under wraps and using his powers for good. Unfortunately, there’s another creature in town and he isn’t nearly as nice as Big Lizard. Elroy Cuzzins has become Big Chicken and one mean mofo in the bargain. His game plan is to fulfill a secret mission that will cause harm to many fine folks. In return, Elroy gets to ascend the ranks and Pick-A-Chicken returns to its former place of dubious glory.
If anybody is going to stop Big Chicken, it’s Big Lizard, but he’s not going to do it alone. Enter Buster’s former chicken crush “Socks” and boy wonder, Isaac who’s been living inside a religiously themed amusement park for the majority of his life. A veritable jack of all trades, this dark-skinned young man is amazing. I guarantee you’re going to like this guy! Buster doesn’t have any family, so these characters, including Hadrian the homeless are all he’s got to lean on. Good folks and colorful to the max. They probably aren’t The “A” Team, but they just might be the B Team!
Plans are made, gears are greased, decoys set in place, but Big Chicken is a truly unruly dude…err, rooster! As time grows short the only thing left to do is have our competitors wade into the ring for the ultimate slug fest. Yee-Haw! But these are not infallible superheroes and shit goes sideways a time or three until things aren’t looking real good for Big Lizard. Even with his sturdy, reptile hide, the authors describe the battle sounding like “Somebody slapping a Naugahyde couch with a belt” Ouch! Anybody got a towel to throw in?
It’s up and down for Buster and Elroy, but somebody’s got to win. Oh, and did I mention there’s a strict time limit on the match? Well, consider it mentioned! What I can’t share with anyone is how this crazy cool entertaining book turns out. Because that would spoil y’all’s fun. A crime punishable by death or being run over by Big Chicken’s red convertible. Whichever comes first. Your mileage may vary!
Big Lizard is a 5 STAR reading experience that offers relief from the real life horrors that the world is facing right now! Frankly, I enjoyed the hell out of this book and know that this baby belongs in your hot little hands, come September. A couple other reviewerly thoughts: I do not think it’s by accident that the protagonists in Big Lizard are people of color and the bad guy is a rich, white corporation owner who deals with the devil for his success. Might be that Elroy Cuzzins is supposed to resemble Donald Trump a bit, might not. Heck of a satire if it is, though. Silly hats, racism, white fella out of control and going down the wrong road, funky family…
BUT, the most important thing is that Joe R. Lansdale, Keith Lansdale, and artist Jok who is contributing the color panels inside the book which are top secret until release time…have put together an excellent book! It’s gonna be a humdinger! So you might want to “Cluck It Up” and order yourself a copy of BIG LIZARD real pronto like before that deep fried goodness is gone!
Want some more information? Contact Short Scary Tales Publications at: www.sstpublications.co.uk
Joe R. Lansdale at his page: www.joerlansdale.com on Twitter: @joelansdale or www.facebook.com/JoeRLansdale/
Keith Lansdale at: www.facebook.com/lansdaleKeith/ You can also visit Keith on twitter and Instagram using the handle @KeithLansdale.
Jok is on Facebook www.facebook.com/jok.laproductora
As always, thanks for checking out Damaged Skull Writer & Reviewer! It’s lonely down here in the Skullcave, so please visit me at http://damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com On Twitter @skullsnflames76 and Facebook at: www.facebook.com/DamagedSkullWriterandReviewer