Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ant Comic by Michael DeForge is possibly the best comic to be found online. Ever.

Yes, that's my argument. If you need more than the image to the left to convince you, read on.

Michael DeForge is the real deal. He's made a splash for himself working on the enormously popular Adventure Time cartoon, as well as with art comics like his serial Lose or minis Elizabeth of Canada and Kid Mafia. These are all worth hunting down and reading, but Ant Comic is immediately accessible (here), and, as I state in the title, not only his best work, but one of the best comics out there.

DeForge is unquestionably unique in his approach to both the art and storytelling in comics. His figures and linework are cartoony, suggesting upon first glance humor and familiarity. Yet his panel compositions, color palette, and character designs present something alien, unsettling, and all-together new. His humor comes at the undercarriage of situations getting into a particular idea from underneath and gunking it all up, forcing you to unpack and dismantle the familiar, all the while getting your hands dirty just to get at what going on. In many of DeForge's comics, that's the whole idea-- to unsettle, to display, to force the reader to look at something a whole new (and often disturbing) way.

In Ant Comic, however, it all serves the greater narrative. Here we have the smallest, most meaningless of characters-- a bunch of ants, going about their business, their busy-ness, and confronting everything from everyday dissatisfaction to all-consuming apocalypse. These ants are, for all the strangeness of their world, ultimately as human as characters come, in their desires, in their dreams, in their unrest and anger and bewilderment. Thus, over the 50 or so installments laid out here, epic levels of human existence are questioned and played out: relationships, life, death, community, meaning, fatherhood, motherhood, what makes a family, what makes a man, what makes a woman, what is desire, how do you become an adult, how do you care, what do you do if you don't... Hell, I could go on and on.

All this conducted in these little boxes by these little creatures, sometimes funny looking, often grotesque. It's indescribable how palpably you will feel their struggles by the end of this thing. Honestly, after I finished the comic, I kept thinking of it, returning to installments and panels and sequences again and again. This is comics at its best: at once pop ephemera and visceral ruminative text.

Drawn & Quarterly, one of the finest publishers of comics in North America, will publish a hardback edition of Ant Comic this coming winter under the title Ant Colony, and I'm so excited. I know I can't wait to hold this amazing work in my hands. So-- read it now online for all its peculiar, astounding immediacy, but look for it on bookshelves come February (laydown is slated for January 28) so you can reread and pore over this epic work.

Again, here is the website for Ant Comic
Here's the publisher Drawn & Quarterly's blog for updates
Here's where you can pre-order the book for its January release


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