It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët's Beautiful Darkness has been one of the undisputed standouts in the not unglorious year of comics 2014. Originating from the mind and sketch/notebooks of Marie Pommepuy (she, and partner Sébastien Cosset collaborate under the pen-name Kerascoët), the story of a group of tiny people springing from the body of a dead girl in the woods and the vicious lengths and efforts they go to to survive is appreciable on several, complex levels. One of the facets of great art is that it lingers in the mind, burrows and shifts, dredging up thought and questions, analyses, re-evaluation, and Beautiful Darkness is no different. And so, to accompany my original review, I've compiled a deconstruction of sorts presented here as various questions (answered and unanswered) and theories that dig further into the text and its potential readings.
Drawn and Quarterly
A prophetic child, full of microscopic earthworms and coated in pollen by bees. The child's nihilistic, sociopath of a father. A cowardly police officer. A pair of homosexuals beginning to drift apart. An infertile female. These are the ants of Michael DeForge's graphic novel Ant Colony, the collected, book form version of his once-serialized strip Ant Comic.
Readers follow them through the weird, black comedy of the waning days of their home colony—some of which is caused by the ants themselves, most of which is due to a war with a colony of red ants—as these survivors wander away and consider forming their own, new colony.
DeForge's ants are his own, centaur-shaped, many-legged creatures with human-ish faces of bright, primary colors and visible organs shining through their black exoskeletons. Their world is full of strangely-designed insects, ranging from bees shaped like the sort a young child might draw, and a giant, human-shaped, scary H.R. Giger goddess of a queen ant.
Despite their shapes, his ants live, think and act like humans...or is human life maybe not so different from that of ants? That's one of the many existential questions one can meditate on while reading Ant Colony, when one's not digging the semi-psychedelic character designs or the razor sharp sit-com gags (Typical punchline? "Should we kill this baby?").
DeForge is currently touring in support of the book, and we took the opportunity to ask him where these his strange insects came from, how his gag strip about ants evolved into a sweeping epic and how he learned to draw like Michael DeForge.
The last twelve months offered comic book readers a wide variety of work ranging from the most crowd-pleasing superhero epics to the most idiosyncratic of indies, and the return of old favorites to the emergence of exciting new talent. It was a busy and productive year for the industry, and one we’re pleased to celebrate with what we’re certain will be an uncontroversial, unenumerated list of awards that will prompt only resounding agreement and unbroken fellowship amongst our readers in the comments below.
Gilbert Hernandez is unquestionably one of the greatest cartoonists of the last 30 years. As such, he continues to receive several accolades and awards, with the latest coming today, as it was announced that he is the recipient of the prestigious PEN Center USA's Graphic Literature Award for Outstanding Body of Work. Coinciding with that announcement, publisher Drawn & Quarterly revealed plans to publish Bumperhead, a follow-up to Hernandez's critically praised graphic novel Marble Season, in Fall 2014.
If Shigeru Mizuki's NonNonBa were just the childhood memoir of an extremely talented and influential first-generation manga artist, it would be something well worth reading. If it were just a family
Sexy is an interesting word. When we say something is sexy, we're implying that it's nice to look at, that it inspires pleasure. It only implies those positive aspects of sex, the joy and luridness. But when you actually think about sex, there are a lot of uncomfortable feelings and confusing emotional experiences involved
How many of you went to the comic book store on Wednesday to buy new comics? Oh!! The humanity! The humiliation! It is an unfortunate situation, but thankfully, it's all over now, because new comics came out yesterday! Behold the power of the aforementioned comics!!
One of the things I've always loved about SPX is the Ignatz Outstanding Debut Award. It guarantees that you'll always be able to find something new at the show. This year there were 28 (!) nominees for Outstanding Debut
I know what you're thinking. Summer is barely over and I'm trying to get you to think about October? Well, my local grocery store is already putting out Halloween candy, and even more terrifyingly the solicitations for the November books are being released even as I type. S
Small Press Expo (SPX), the preeminent showcase for the exhibition of independent comic books, graphic novels and alternative political cartoons, is proud to announce Bill Griffith, Gilbert Hernandez and Rutu Modan as the first slate of guests for SPX 2007. This years SPX will be held October 12 and October 13 at The North Bethesda Marriott Convention Center in Bethesda, Maryland.