The Complete Ouija Interviews (Short Pants Press)

Sarah Becan turns real Ouija board sessions into comics that are alternately funny, creepy, charming, poignant, and highly recommended.

192 pgs. brown & white; $10.00
(W / A: Sarah Becan)
 
Sometimes big ideas can come in small, unassuming packages. A case in point: Ouija Interviews, a series of short minicomics telling stories culled from real Ouija board sessions conducted by cartoonist Sarah Becan and her brothers on the island of Nantucket. The simplicity of that premise extends to the pages themselves: each page consists of a single large, square panel (framed by an ornate border that appears hand-stamped onto the original art) illustrating the ghost being interviewed, with a small rectangular header to house the unseen interviewer’s question. Thanks to a generous grant from the Xeric Foundation, The Complete Ouija Interviews has arrived, collecting all of Becan’s minicomics plus a few brand new bonus interviews. With their hand-serigraphed covers and individual numbering, the original minicomics had their own homemade charm, but with its textured cover, rich brown inks, and sturdy binding, this collection definitely makes for a handsome, if miniscule (5 x 6 x ½), package.
 
It’s a testament to Becan’s skills as an artist that she can accomplish so much with so little. Her illustrations have the plain-faced simplicity and creepy cuteness of Roman Dirge’s Lenore or The Nightmare Before Christmas, with elasticity enough to show a much wider range of emotions than could ever be captured in just the ten-words-or-less answers communicated through the Ouija’s planchette. Chip is probably the best example, a spirit who swings from playful to annoyed to serious to silly to bored. Becan perfectly captures the entire range, giving Chip a mischievous grin as he cracks jokes (“What’s red and hangs behind a train? A miscarriage.”) and a furrowed brow when the tables are turned on him (“No more silly questions.”)
 
Though these stories are alternately funny, creepy, and charming, there is a constant sense of sadness that permeates the pages. Many of these lost spirits died in disturbing crimes of passion. They are adrift, in search of closure for the events that ended their lives. When a young murdered girl says she’s in Heaven and the interviewer asks how she knows, her hesitant “I must be” is enough to break your heart. But there are also uplifting sentiments, pleas from the ghosts to live your life to the fullest while you still can. Each story ends like the Ouija sessions themselves, with the ghost saying flatly “Good bye,” but the statement ends not so much with a period as an ellipsis, allowing the emotions it stirred to linger. Comics rarely come more poignant and heart-wrenching than this unassuming, but highly recommended, little book. | Jason Green
 
Click here to check out a brief preview or order your own copy of The Complete Ouija Interviews.

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