Harvey Knight’s Odyssey
Designer: Nick Maandag
Editor: Drawn and quarterly
Harvey Knight’s Odyssey by Nick Maandag is an fascinating ebook, kind of a mixture of the very best of recent humor comics – suppose Tom Gauld — with the strain cooker stress of flicks the place the primary character shoots himself within the foot again and again till that foot is gone. Assume Uncut Gems, or, maybe extra related to the comics, funny pages. What units this ebook aside, nevertheless, is the way it applies its tackle darkish humor to very particular energy buildings, together with mundane workplace politics in addition to a cult that has come to wield huge powers inside of the society.
This imaginative and prescient performs out most clearly in two of the three complete performs within the ebook. The primary is the opening story, Diving, which is grounded totally in actuality and constructed on the menial nature of workplace existence, the place something new or uncommon is more likely to change into a supply of fascination. In Diving, this novelty is using a French press to make espresso, one thing most individuals within the workplace have by no means seen earlier than. It is an ideal and relatable piece. Personally, I used to convey one other model of glowing water to my workplace, one which my colleagues had by no means seen earlier than, and it was a relentless supply of dialog. See additionally, after I ate an orange for lunch daily at a distinct workplace (actually, somebody totally different got here by daily, sniffled round and stated “it smells like orange”…it was nonsense).
It is this acquainted idea that makes the primary story such a robust opener, that makes a sly and delicate level about how seamless fashionable work could be, the way it prepares individuals for one thing totally different or fascinating. It pays off in a wise and deserved punchline that I will not spoil right here. It additionally serves as an ideal entry level for a ebook which may in any other case show troublesome to entry.
After the introductory story, Harvey Knight’s Odyssey continues with the titular piece, the place the true scope of Maandag’s pursuits on this ebook begins to change into clear. In a method, the second story additionally results in a give attention to the non-public facet of being entangled in energy buildings that make the person really feel uniform (a theme that Maandag has explored beforehand, albeit in several context). However whereas the primary story depends on relatable familiarity, the second story casually constructs an absurd alternate actuality laced with grossness and depravity. The characters we comply with are a part of a cult that inexplicably wields a lot energy in society that it has begun shaping the legislation (making homicide authorized in the suitable context).
A special (and lesser) comedian would have obsessively dwelt on the cult, in addition to why this society has change into what it’s, however not this ebook. Cult and Society are principally a background taste. The ebook goes fairly exhausting on specializing in its titular character, who’s simply plain terrible. We watch this terrible man inflict more and more violent and clumsy self-harms on himself for nearly 100 pages. This man – Harvey Knight – is as incapable as he’s formidable, and the outcomes are heartbreaking.
As I stated above, the way in which Knight more and more injures himself along with his schemes evokes a kind of story that crosses the zeitgeist and influences different arts with nice alacrity. It is a feeling that has led to motion pictures like humorous pages Or Uncut Gems. The distinction with this piece is that these motion pictures occur in our world, and Harvey Knight’s Odyssey takes place in a world of its personal. This permits the story to go even additional than it in any other case may, and there are few checks on the ultimate vacation spot of the weather on this ebook.
And that is actually the energy of this ebook, at the least for a sure sort of reader. It is basically so daring that it’d alienate some readers as nicely. Harvey Knight’s Odyssey it ought to be famous, will not be going to be an enormous crowd pleaser. The centerpiece is crammed with sudden murders, can-can dancers dressed as maggots, and males carrying speedos in a basement getting drunk whereas forcing mice to play bowl as an alternative of taking good care of the tasks ‘they plotted and murdered to get. The opening room, Diving, immerses the reader within the fascinations of Maandag, whereas Harvey Knight’s Odyssey exams how far they’re prepared to comply with his narrative explorations of them.
For readers keen to slip into chaos, depravity, and imaginative black humor, this one may find yourself being their favourite ebook of the yr. I fairly loved it. I discovered these tales compulsively readable and completely unpredictable. And I laughed in lots of locations on the humor that Maandag present in a sure sort of depth of cynicism that I believed I had not often (if ever) seen explored by cartoonists.
Maandag’s cartooning can be delicate, cohesive, and fascinating all through, as are the characters and thematic pursuits he explores. True cartooning is probably the toughest style to work with, and Maandag does it fearlessly. The outcomes could be brutal on this one at instances, however it’s all within the service of fascinating premises and enjoyable payoffs. If this all sounds interesting and also you’re able to make a journey down the basement (actually and metaphorically) with Harvey Knight, you may simply stroll out of it after discovering one of many funniest books you’ve got learn in years. .
Harvey Knight’s Odyssey is available now.
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