Snake Oil #6: The Ground Is Soft
Chuck Forsman, writer/artist
self-published, December 2010
Buy it from the Oily Boutique
Last time we checked in with Chuck Forsman, he was chronicling a young man trapped in an unrewarding life by the demands of family and culture and his own inability to muster the gumption to really try to escape them. Here, he…chronicles a young man trapped in an unrewarding life by the demands of family and culture and his own inability to muster the gumption to really try to escape them. But you’d be surprised, stunned even, to see how far away from Snake Oil #5’s straightforward slice-of-lifer Forsman can get even within that basic tonal template. In The Ground Is Soft, Forsman employs a sort of late-model Dan Clowes kaleidoscopic-narrative effect to tell a vaguely alt-fantasy story about an abusive warrior-father, his hapless would-be-priest son, his two wives (one loving, the other a little too loving), and the customs that govern their society and their lives, which are largely inscrutable until the kaleidoscope is shifted in just the right way toward the end of the book, revealing something deeply unpleasant about the culture and (potentially) redeeming about the father, depending on how you look at it. It’s very smart work, with a sense of humor that’s more somber than traditionally black, and a degree of control over how the one- or two-page vignettes assembled out of chronological order to tell the tale play off one another and hold back the big reveal until the very last minute. As was the case with his contribution to Monster I’m really not sure why he chose to cap things off with the equivalent of the sort of corny joke accompanied by a wah-wah trombone sound — go ahead, be bleak, nobody minds, man! I certainly don’t. This guy’s good.