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BY SEAN CLARK

Author: Hans Rickheit

2009, Fantagraphics Books

Filed Under: Graphic Novel, Sci-Fi, Horror.

This book is pretty messed up. I’m not even really sure what it’s about, but it’s pretty messed up.

Edward and William are two very smart little rich kids living off their father’s inheritance. As a hobby, they make steampunky musical instruments out of animal carcasses and phonographs and sundry things. There’s a crazy woman known as Pig Lady, and they somehow have a cavernous workshop hidden beneath the house their father left them. There’s their odd mother, and a girl named Morgen who gets banged in what I can best describe as a snail sorter. And there’s this:

There’s something about this book I really liked. It’s not the plot, because there really isn’t one. I don’t mean that I couldn’t suss out what happens in the surreal narrative, but just that it wanders. The story’s a bit like a fever dream, and it depicts a few of those, tumbling things even farther into its churning¬†delirium. There’s a book called The Squirrel Machine that keep cropping up, but its relevance or importance is anyone’s guess.

It’s not the characters, because they are far from whole. And it’s not really the art, though that is certainly the most interesting aspect to be singled out. Rickheit is very talented with a pen. This book is full of quite detailed, even ornate, drawings. His ability to capture his imagination on paper is staggering (even if the product is more than a little¬†disturbing). While the art is very good, you probably wouldn’t hang it on your wall; after finishing this book, it will be the subjects and not the artistry that sticks with you.

So pretty much what it boils down to is there’s a lot of intricately drawn death and gore and grotesquery, and a little bit of boobs. Mostly a lot of weird happens. None of the parts are all that great, but somehow the whole package left me quite satisfied. The experience is a bit like watching a David Lynch movie. I don’t think I get it, and I’m not even sure I’m supposed to. But I like it.

Similar Reads: Silverfish (Lapham), Kill Your Boyfriend (Morrisson)

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