Gags and Sloe Black
Michael DeForge, writer/artist
Gags – 18 pages, 2007; Sloe Black – 12 pages, 2008
These are sort of more what I anticipated when I got a package full of Michael DeForge comics in the mail–arty, xeroxy, at times consciously illegible transmissions from an alien design aesthetic. That’s almost all there is to Sloe Black, a small zine showcasing a series of vaguely humanoid shapes constructed with twisting, dripping, rope-like lines, and triangles and dots repeated with an almost schizophrenic intensity. These aren’t comics or narrative images, not by a longshot–they’re a visual braindump, they’re what you sort of imagined abstract painting was supposed to be about. It’s sort of like getting a sense of what DeForge’s “sound” is before you hear it applied to a song structure.
You get more of that sort of thing in Gags. Though the art is slightly less far out, it’s still drawing on that same basic melty, drippy, metal-illustration-influenced visual vocabulary, with a series of portraits of monstrous, faceless figures made of goo and teeth. But they’re juxtaposed with a series of well-chosen non sequiturs from everyday dude-life. “You don’t understand–playing drums is my life” reads the all-caps caption for a beast with a mouth growing out the side of its head and a knife with which he’s exposing his own ribcage; “Fuckin’ Carlos man–dude scares off so much pussy” says a beast whose body sits atop its head rather than the other way around. Besides having a flair for the zine-culture grotesque, DeForge has a great comedic ear for what happens in the company of bros.