In light of today’s very upsetting news, I’m reminded of something Michael DeForge once told me in passing after we had finished filming his interview for issue 5. For every interview I film, I ask artists to pick out some objects in their apartment that mean a lot to them. As I was filming some b-roll shots of the objects he picked out, I asked him why he chose his copy of Prince’s Dirty Mind. After hearing about Prince’s passing, I went through my archives to see if I actually recorded any of the audio from what he told me, and found this clip that never ended up making it into either of the final videos.
I did a no-no and read a series our of order and read Lose 3 and 4 without reading the first two. Lose 4 just came out, say maybe a couple months ago, so it’s fresh in my mind.
There’s not any continuity from each books of the series so you’re not missing anything by skipping around. So you there should be nothing holding you back from picking up a copy of alt comic’s future, it’s so good I was angry for two days after I read it.
Lose 4 jumps around, following a college kid’s experience at a leather club and then a pseudo summary of Canadian royal history. A outline of the story doesn’t do Deforge or his work any justice and certainly won’t explain how future he is or how completely “comics” I think his work is. I know this is vague, so I’ll try and explain. I was watching the new Battlestar Galactica a while back and trying to explain to myself why the series worked so well. I could have been just trying to justify why I, a grown ass man, was ignoring work to sit in my underwear on my hard wood floor shoveling coffee heath bar ice cream in my gob and staring at Netflix for hours on end, but let’s just pretend I reflect on things for more that just justifications for a minute. Often Sci-fi’s unbelievable worlds jettison the viewer at the launch (see what I’m doing here?) because the world in the narrative is so unbelievable. We’re a self-involved bunch so we want to identify with what’s going on, be inside the story. Without a foot hold we’re floating right off to something else that grabs us, for me it’s more ice cream. Battlestar works for me because the personal journey’s of most of the characters seems well sussed out, I know what the stakes are, I get what people want because their desires are clear and down to earth (last space metaphor, I promise).
At first pass Lose seems like a lot of half-hearted navel-gazing hipster scrawling coming out of indy comics, particularly indie comics in NYC. Every smooth, hard line sags and oozes from bizarre character and environment. Deforge is good, but what is obviously bold experimentation could easily dissuade a passive reader of comics with a general desire to understand what they’re seeing (PS fuck those people.). If this was all the artist brought to comics he’d be pretty solid, but part of a whole herd of ballet pant wearing scrawlers shooting for vice page fame (PS fuck those people.) (PPS plz print my comic!!!).
What makes Deforge stand out is how completely solid his story writing and understanding of visual narrative is. Scott McCloud talks about the synthesis between the written word and the visual in comics. In the right comic each are totally dependent on the other. In Lose 3, A drippy pup guy with weird skin wings is working through loss and a general malaise in his life. There is a narrative, but what killed me was how casually complete his experience was, how the sad, the drone, the trap of time, and miss understanding seeped through the pages. At once we know this guy, but he’s not a guy, he’s a weird soggy dog. It’s brilliant and you should be reading this guy’s work.