Comics Time: Open Country #1

Open Country #1
Michael DeForge, writer/artist
self-published, May 2011
16 pages
Read some preview pages, and buy it eventually, I’d imagine, at Michael DeForge’s website

I think there’s a greatest-hits compilation called A Young Person’s Guide to King Crimson? That’s sort of what this is for Michael DeForge. Nearly all his themes can be heard here: deadpan slice-of-life dialogue juxtaposed with extravagantly odd SFF concepts; deconstructed, dismantled, dismembered, disfigured human bodies and faces, like cubism reimagined as body horror; friendship depicted primarily as a venue for venting ideas and concerns at one another rather than real emotional interaction; uncomfortably accurate and funny lampooning of the disconnect between lofty art-school philosophizing and post-graduation economic reality; visually spectacular treatment of altered states shared by two people; creepy horror slowly oozing out of and eventually overwhelming previously established ideas. Conspicuously absent are the full-fledged rubble-strewn wastelands of the sort seen in Lose #3, but in their place there’s a conversation about such post-apocalyptic landscapes. It comes in the context of an interview with the visual artist whose work is the catalyst for the comic. She works in the medium of psychic projection, said by our leading man to be the province of the educated and access-granted elite: “Sometimes I wish I had actually stayed in art school so I could have learned how to do that sort of thing. There are so many techinques that I don’t have the time or resources to learn on my own…psychic projection, silkscreening, linocuts, darkroom photography–all that stuff.” Our hero tries to bone up on the form by watching an interview with the artist (whom we first see as she projects an avatar of herself that’s gigantic, nude, impaled in a field of debris, and begging for help) on YouTube: “[Do you] really believe that? That there’s ‘nothing left to build on?’” asks her interviewer. “Your imagery is so preoccupied with debris, clutter, refuse…’” This might as well be an interview with DeForge himself. And like a good interview, Open Country #1 is a great thing to hand someone who wants to see what’s up with the artist in question.

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