Comics Time: Spotting Deer and SM

Spotting Deer
Michael DeForge, writer/artist
Koyama Press, December 2010
12 pages
$5
Buy it from Michael DeForge

SM
Michael DeForge, writer/artist
self-published, December 2010
12 pages
I forget what it cost

“Although physically similar to a common white-tailed deer (Ocoileus virginianus), the spotting deer (Capreolus vulgaris) is actually a kind of terrestrial slug.” So begins the first of two short, creepy comics debuted by Canadian wunderkind Michael DeForge at this past December’s Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, and so does one get a sense of the type of skin-crawly, dis-ease driven horror DeForge is creating here. In the guise of a nature guide, the cartoonist not only piles discomfiting detail (“Its ‘antlers’ are actually colonies of parasitic polyps that are first attached to the deer during adolescence”) upon discomfiting detail (“biologists nickname this phenomenon the ‘sexual acqueduct’”), but trots out a unique and fully formed full-color palette to do so; he then whisks the comic into unexpected territory by making it just as much about the obsessive in-story writer of the guide, whose face we never see even as evidence quietly accrues that his interest in these strange creatures has more or less ruined his life. The self-published SM is similarly based in the horror of the squicky and gross (a snowman stands mutely smiling as two teenagers take a knife to it, unpleasantly revealing that it’s somehow made out of real flesh) and similarly takes off into unpredictable territory (the flesh is hallucinogenic; the snowman’s nearest neighbor is a Texas Chain Saw Massacre-style old man who doesn’t take kindly to trespassers). As if compensating for the comparative lack of color, DeForge makes the book’s centerpiece as sensual as possible: It’s a full-on psychedelic freak-out laid atop a topless makeout session by an ersatz Maggie and Hopey. It’s enough eye candy to send you into the visual equivalent of diabetic shock, which somehow leaves you even better prepared to picture the unpleasantness that goes on between panels on the subsequent page and is about to go on after that elegant final panel. The best part of all, of course, is that while DeForge’s alt-horror idiom is familiar enough (especially to me, especially lately), his personal drawing style isn’t; DeForge’s comics really do look only like themselves. Give me more.

7 Responses to Comics Time: Spotting Deer and SM

  1. Pat says:

    I would argue “Michael Deforge in 2010″ as quite possibly one of best years a cartoonist has ever had.

    Awesome, awesome work.

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dustin Harbin, Michael DeForge. Michael DeForge said: sean t collins reviews Spotting Deer and SM! http://bit.ly/gsLGTh [...]

  3. Karl Ruben says:

    Egads! You can’t half write, Mr. Collins.

  4. [...] If you ever wanted to read Michael DeForge’s excellent comic Spotting Deer online for free, well, now you [...]

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