Monday, August 29, 2016


Regarding Quicksand
Michael DeForge

There's this line in Julia Gfrorer and Sean T. Collins comic The Deep Ones about humanity's fear of the ocean, “And in the deep, its expanse shielded from light and time, it is easy to believe ancient things linger, that the unseen, like a fish against the legs of childhood memory, can brush against us and bite, and contaminate and consume…”

That line always made me feel uneasy, anxious in a fearful way.

DeForges Regarding Quicksand creates a similar sensation of anxiety, but in a way i still can’t describe. The narrative centers around a dozen things you can’t see touching you simultaneously that you can’t stop. Told in a rigid six panel grid, the book exudes claustrophobia. Even while staying as precisely spaced as a computer program will allow, the gutters feel like they’re shrinking every page



Regarding Quicksand opens on a wide shot of the sole character adrift in an unknown body of water, untouched. We only see the man's entire figure twice, once on the first page as an establishing shot, and then as the last panel of the story. He is alone, scared, and flaccid in that first shot and surrounded, contemplative and erect in the last. What surrounds him, and what causes these changes in his body, beneath the surface, is the crux of the comic. Told in a deadened tone DeForge explores each and every feeling the man encounters, but in a way that the images being shown and the words being said are taken to a fantastical extreme. Shifts in the current, floating debris and mud turn into slugs crawling into the man's ear and mermaids biting his neck like little vampires.

While it exists on the surface as an experiment between the two planes that comics exist on, words and images, a fairly well trodden idea, it brings those ideas around again to a discussion of a character's understanding of the seen and unseen. DeForge leaves these visual gaps not as a nod towards comics theory, but as a way to show the manic nature of un-knowing. What lurks beneath and what we think lurks beneath tend to be wildly different, and the differences only seem to amplify when water is added.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Roll at the Rink

Late Bloomers is a comic of smudges, false starts and moments of clarity.

The art flexes and reflexes. Its sole purpose seems to be to breathe in the absence of words. Thoughts, written and existing outside of the artwork are to weak for Odomo to allow to exist. Poems about insecurity perform self constructed suicides, crossing out the letters that make up their very existence before subjecting themselves to the readers eyes. The only words that are meant for the reader seem to be those that become infused into the artwork itself. Their importance to the composition precludes them from eraser. They bubble to the surface of the page, congregating between each other to create phrases and even, sometimes, sentences. If they are erased the page dies with them, and as the pages mount, the book itself.

By constantly self-sabotaging the narrative thrust of Late Bloomers you begin to sense a nervousness. A story of maturity that never seems to coalesce, let it be acknowledged as such. Odomo draws himself into the narrative at various ages, but it is only his past self that we are allowed to view in any detail. His identity is solidified in a pre-self, not a present, which is only ever depicted hidden under a baseball cap or in the expressionless outline of a figure viewed from a distance.

As the book moves past the halfway point flowers begin to bloom.

The narrative shifts from short memories of youth to pages filled with drawings of pigeons in the park. The pages are presented as photos from a sketchbook, rather than straight scans, creating a strange undercutting of artistic intimacy. To peek into an artist's sketchbook is to peek into their mind, so when you are given a unrequited look into the sketchbook of Odomo one expects a greater level of artistic intimacy, but while the rest of the book exists in a murky sense of indirectness, these sketchbook pages are straightforward in their actions. The maddening part though is that this level of closeness is given over to a section about pigeons and not any other aspect of Odomo’s.

The last words written in Late Bloomer is “Don’t Wanna Talk Abou It.... What...Ever!!!!” as a figure walks into a field of flowers and out of the reader's intrusive gaze. A photo of a notebook page with the numbers 27 scrawled across it follows these words, then a drawing of a cat becoming startled as the reader looks upon its face. Or maybe as it looks upon the reader.

 I turn 27 in four months and i too, do not want to talk about it.