Big Questions #11: Sweetness and Light
Anders Nilsen, writer/artist
Drawn and Quarterly, November 2008
Big Questions #11 contains enough wow moments to sustain your average cartoonist’s career for several years. The latest installment in Nilsen’s series about the reaction of various birds and animals to a plane crash in their midst is pretty much one bravura sequence and image after another. The wild dogs coming thisclose to eating the sleeping crash survivor…the pilot’s fever dream of a monstrous swan erupting from the earth…carving the swan open to unleash a maelstrom of bloodsoaked birds…the mocking, sinister blackbird who refers to carnivores like himself as “the walking, flying dead,” since you are what you eat…the pilot’s second dream, where he quietly tends to the other survivor…the wounded bird who spends the entire issue dragging himself across the ground by his head, just to climb a hill where he can see the sunrise on the final page. As an artist Nilsen continues to grow, doing things (like the inky, frightening flock of birds that fly out of the slain swan) I’ve never seen him do before and doing them wonderfully well. It’s Wild Kingdom directed by David Lynch, suspenseful and rapturous, a comic of terrible sadness, horror, and beauty.