Saturday, January 26, 2008



Imagine Johnny Ryan and Steve McNiven doing a mashup of My Super Sweet Sixteen and Oz with the cast of The West Wing. That's how I felt.

You can almost see the pitch in this one. Black comedy/supernatural horror about political advisers working for the Clintons and Bush in the first eight months of 2001 with plenty of sex and prison violence. Combine that with some lively pen and marker drawing and a guy dying of book stuffed in mouth in the first six pages and you've got your green light.

But... The story jumps back and forth from September 10 to August 5 to September 10 to April 19 to April 23 to May 31 to September 10 to May 31 to August 17 to September 10 to September 12... all for no discernible reason. It just jumps to scenes with different characters in different situations like an ADD storyteller. You get to the end and I think you're supposed to be overwhelmed by all the revelations, but the whole thing is revelations with no mystery. He's crazy! He's in prison! He's a crazy prisoner! They were both coworkers! For the Clintons! She was cheating on the other guy! With the one guy! All along! And he's a Republican!

The cumulative effect should be, "huh?" But it's not. Because there's more. There's the coloring that no one thought to test on paper before printing. It's all percentages of red and green and plates where the two overlap giving you a dark brown. The blacks print a little light and the colors print so dark that the whole thing becomes more of a challenge to read through mud than it should be.

And it shouldn't be a challenge to read. The time skipping and constant revelations about characters you don't know and the coloring make it one, but (and I can't believe I'm saying this) the spiritual vacancy of the whole thing, the sheer ugliness and depravity of humanity on display in this book... pretty much are a deterrent for working through the challenge. I think the authors are aiming for this ugliness, but there's no temperance to it. Nothing that the ugliness is set against. It's all rictus grimaces and prison rape and penis eating and and leering doctors and blood splatter that hangs in the air for several minutes and racist humor and unnecessary giant erect nipples and then the World Trade Center gets hit with planes.

I don't know. I needed to take about five showers after reading this.

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