Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Body Beneath: Collecting Issues of the Comic Book Series "Lose"

A Body Beneath: Collecting Issues of the Comic Book Series A Body Beneath: Collecting Issues of the Comic Book Series "Lose" by Michael DeForge
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"Striking, funny, disturbing, beautiful, original" claims the blurb on the back cover. Well, yes and no. DeForge himself admits that the earlier works included here (and the even earlier works not included) were weaker material.

But, at first, I was disinclined to agree. I really enjoyed the comic "It's Chip," with its morbid and surreal exploration of bullying and acceptance . . . of a sort (Important safety tip: do NOT read this to your child, or they will come out as warped as my children did after reading Dante's Inferno to them at a young age . . . unless you, like me, prefer warped children who grow up into warped adults. "Welcome to the fold, kid!").

But, like most collections of short stories - whether text or graphic - things get "uneven," as they tactfully say, as it goes along. That's not to say that any of the stories are really bad, none of them are. But with many, I had the same feeling I had when reading Clowes' The Death-Ray: "What's the hype? Why all the aloofness? You really think you're cool and condescending, don't you?" Truth is: I'm not a hipster. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I tended to like the shorter to mid-length pieces in this collection, but one of the longer ones stood out: "Living Outdoors," a psychedelic trip through, among other things, psychedelic trips. But the work also explores the complexity of relationships and associated emotions. It's the kind of story that sticks in the cranium after the end in a way that many of the other stories didn't.

My favorite, though, was "Recent Hires," the tale of a self-abusing worm of a man who goes to desperate measures to elicit sympathy from women he likes. A strange, pitiful, very funny tale that is one of the more "straightforward" comics of the bunch. Still evocatively drawn, but with a tighter plot than most of the other pieces in the volume.

As I've said earlier, there are no poor pieces in the volume. Just a couple that I found really boring. I'm sure I was missing the point. I just don't get the hipster "vibe". Maybe I'm a hipster because of that. I'm not cool enough to know.

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