Sometimes stories just grab a hold of you and don’t let go. Ryan Estrada, who does everything, was kind enough to send me review copies of two of the stories in the current The Whole Story bundle, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t intend to send stories that would worm their way into my brain and refuse to vacate, but that’s the way it turned out. By the way, spoilers ahead.
- First up: Estrada’s own Plagued, involving endless locusts, raining frogs, and Hitlercats in the wake of the 2004 tsunami. It makes for a great bar story (Estrada draws himself relating it as an open-mic piece) and it’s pretty humorous, but then he follows it up with the in-his-own-words tale of a survivor of the tsunami.
Looh’s Story is only eight pages long, but it’s packed with a sense of feeling helpless before the might of nature, the condition of losing everything, and the simple determination to regain what went away. Looh was lucky — his family (minus one cat) survived¹, but they lost their home, and the taxi and boat that formed the basis of their income. I don’t know if Estrada has any way to let us know how Looh and his family have done in the eight years since, but I’d be fascinated to find out.
- Estrada also sent along a copy of KC Green’s The Dog’s Sins, where it turns out that a quiet, elderly, slightly pain-in-the-ass dog may have been the most vicious criminal in all of the world, and at the end of his life it’s time to account for his wrongdoing. Unfortunately, dogs don’t have souls, so God and his representatives can’t try or punish ol’ Buster or hold him to account, so it falls to his owner, teenage Rachel, to be given a time of pointless purgatory in lieu of her pooch.
She’s supposed to be silently contemplating Buster’s wicked ways, but she’s mostly wanting to let the heavenly bureaucracy know how much this sucks. She’s left haunted by the experience, as is her family who had lost her for five years of her short life. She’ll never be the same because The Rules say somebody has to be punished, fair or not.
Green’s loose, comical style contrasts perfectly with the sense of the universe screwing with Rachel to no good end — it’s got to be a joke, and God’s not got a very good sense of humor. It’s bleak and spare and perfectly balanced between outrage and absurdity. That’s a lot of very heavy storytelling in only 22 pages.
Both Plagued and The Dog’s Sins are available for another 21 days via The Whole Story Kickstarter, for a name-your-own price of one dollar or more, along with more than 200 pages of other comics. It’s hard to imagine a bigger bargain this season.
¹ Including his previously-bedridden grandmother, who was “outrunning water like she is 20.”