Posted: Tuesday, August 16, 2005
By: Steve Saville
Creator(s): Eleanor Davis, Karl Kressbach, Nate Neal, Lydia Gregg and Mitch Hess
Publishers: Mental Note Press
The main intention of the Hoax anthology is to provoke thought. As a result some of the material contained within the five stories is disturbing, some is overtly political and some is just plain bewildering. All of the material has validity even if it doesn't always convince. It is frank and direct and as a result the comic has an overall sense of urgency, a sense of a group of concerned comic creators who have something to say and are in a hurry to say it.
Before we get into the main stories we are presented with the Hoax Spring Calendar which is a list of humanity's many senseless acts of brutality or stupidity. Interspersed between these depressing events is a cartoon monster that eats people, birds and itself. This is a fitting visual commentary on the historical acts listed. The one uplifting date being May the 5th, the date of the first free comic day during which 0 people were killed
We start the comic "proper" with Yolk an angst-ridden tale of a lonely geek type character who ventures away from his solitary existence of watching porn on his TV to go to party where he meets a nipple less girl. Love seems to blossom and our protagonist is given a glimpse of a better life but the girl goes home [after chucking up in the toilet]. Dominated by the visual and symbolic rather that the written statement this is a sad little tale that works well. Well drawn in a modern style Yolk aches with a genuine sense of loneliness and ennui. A promising start.
The second tale is where the disturbing element kicks in. Four of the first five frames feature a very elderly lady graphically masturbating in the back seat of a shuttle bus heading for the airport. Now that's disturbing. Once we get to the airport everything gets a little surreal, flocks of birds, a mob of naked children, explosions, you know, the sort of thing that always happens at the airport. I must admit that while this story looks great it lost me. I think it had something to do with the airport being the terminal between different realities. Fair enough but the old lady in the back of the van, ukk.
The most overtly political story in the comic is the third, titled American Protest. Here the narrator, a middle aged liberal, is in Savannah, Georgia 2004 as the G8 road show rolls into town. Over the next couple of days he finds himself drawn into the political circus that erupts around him. What makes this story interesting is the character's internal musings as he tries to make sense of what is happening to his country and to himself. The narrator's dilemma borders on the allegorical but creator Nate Neal works hard to ensure that the humanity of the Doonsbury type main character is retained. Verging on the paranoid in places but probably all the more powerful because of this.
The final story is titled Cannibalism, and that says it all really. This is a very clever tale. The creator Lydia Gregg looks at examples of cannibalism in the animal kingdom and transposes them into our contemporary human society. A kind of, "what if•" situation. Fascinating and chilling. It comes across like a scientific treatise, not a million miles away from Swift's A Modest Proposal.
Overall Hoax is aimed at an adult "thinking" audience. The fact that it is so eclectic will prevent any one target group from identifying totally with its contents and this could mean it may struggle to find an audience. I enjoyed it though, it made me think and it made me angry. But that old lady in the back of the van, that was just wrong.
In a Word: Provoking.
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