The Deformitory (Heart Monster Press)

deformitory-header.jpgThis Xeric Grant-winning title from Sophia Wiedeman is one strange, haunting little comic.

 

 

52 pgs., B&W; 6.00

(W & A: Sophia Wiedeman)

The Deformitory by Sophia Wiedeman is a strange little comic in which it’s not obvious how all the parts fit together yet the end result is quite haunting. It’s sort of a misfits tale like Nightbreed but much less straightforward and told from a female point of view. I’m still not sure what it’s all about, but in this case that’s a good thing: it’s a puzzle which is intriguing rather than annoying.

We begin with a prelude of a young man running through the woods and meeting a unicorn. Or did he? Cut to the main narrative, involving apparently the same young man daydreaming about unicorns and falling in love with a beautiful blonde girl, then leaving her to return to the enchanted woods to build a stone tower in which he reads many books and grows old.

The cover to The Deformitory by Sophia Wiedeman. Click for a larger image.Cut to a different tower which is the "deformitory" or dormitory for deformed people, including a living skeleton, a guy with antlers and a blonde girl named Dolores with bandaged hands who resembles the girl from the previous narrative. We then get the backstory on the blonde girl which I don’t want to give away here, except to say that her physical deformity is probably a metaphor for nurturing a socially-unacceptable part of yourself—you know, like creativity—then finding that you can’t control it. Or that it’s more trouble than it’s worth.

There’s an aside about a heart-eating monster—I’m still not sure what that was about.  And there’s another tale about an octopus-mermaid who is shunned by her more conventionally-attractive sisters, then pulls the same attitude with another mermaid whose differentness does not conform to hers. At which point you are probably saying: women with fish tails think other people are deformed? That’s another metaphor, kids: think how easily it can apply to everyday life in this world of ours.

Then we’re back with the old guy and the unicorn and a beautiful moonlit night. Wiedeman’s art is detailed yet simple and evokes old-time fairy tale books filled with dark woods and enchanted castles. She has a gift for drawing variations on the almost-normal so that that you aren’t distracted by the mermaid’s tentacles or the talking lobster claws: they evoke a world similar to your own yet which is also weirdly different in ways not yet entirely apparent. Much of the story is told without dialogue so the art has to carry the day, but that works out well because it presents the narrative while leaving it up to you to interpret it.

The Deformitory will be in comic book shops this fall or can be purchased directly from the author at sophwied@yahoo.com. You can see a preview at http://sophiadraws.com/comics.html and check out the writer/artist’s blog at http://www.sophiadrawscomics.blogspot.com/.  | Sarah Boslaugh

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