Paul Taylor does something similar in today’s Wapsi Square. There’s been literally weeks worth of his dark storyline, with dead gods and the end of the world and portents of danger. He’s been doling out the hints of what’s going on at a furious and satisfying rate. But sometimes, you have to put all that aside for a day, and draw a big ol’ wide panel of hot girls dancing.[links altered to fit current archive structure]
Taylor’s been back to that same part of the story — what happened to three girls to turn them into a force of metaphysical rage — several times since he introduced it, each time looping a little closer to the details and getting a bit darker; if you aren’t familiar, start reading the archives around November of 2005 and work you way forward, or, go read books 2 and 3 thoroughly.
But unlike that first pass where he took time out from the doom and horror for a little (metaphorical and literal) colorful fun, or subsequent loops where he told more than he showed, this time he’s diving full into the heart of darkness. Persons unknown tried to control their world by means of sacrificing others; one decided to stop it by means brutal and probably deserved; she fell just shy of success and fell further into a horrifying fate.
This strikes me as the last iteration, the last retelling of these events from a fresh POV, and Taylor’s not sparing any feelings. It’s a gut-punch that finally brings home (unsparingly, and without mercy) what happens to sacrifices and those that cross the venal and powerful when they try to resist. The time for half-revealed truths and sparing the worst details is done, and whether we were ready to handle it or not, we’re getting the full blast of repressed, ugly suffering.
In lesser hands, it would be no better than the unimaginative “torture porn” that passes for most horror cinema these days, but I think that Taylor’s earned this look into the abyss … just don’t look too long. As you read these latest installments, hold onto the knowledge that we’re only a week or so from geeking audiophiles¹. I’m not sure if Taylor spent last week softening us up for this week’s stories, or just wanted to give us a mental lifeline to happier strips, but the happy does take the edge off.
In an entirely less profoundly disturbing corner of the world (unless you look too closely beneath the happy colors), Box Brown has established an offshoot of his delightfully eschatological Everything Dies. Having put up a couple of pixel-style comics that put the fun in fundamentalism, Brown has gathered them at their own site, Super Gods. They’re delightful, but here’s hoping that Brown hasn’t offended anybody too badly; I’m not overly worried that the subjects of his comics might take offense, but I also know that Rich Stevens is powered by coffee, breakfast, and revenge.
¹ I know some serious capital-A Audiophiles — the sort that spend and extra $25 000 when building a house to make their listening room acoustically perfect enough for their $50 000 speakers — and that last link could absolutely be a documentary of the the sheer joy these people feel over vacuum tubes. It’s a little scary.