Comics as Event Horizon

Friend and ally on the sequential narrative landscape, Liam McSharp is just releasing a fascinating anthology of work by the artist and writers at Mamtor. He asked me to write a preface, and I was happy to oblige. (I’ve recently learned that the people in comics journalism can be extremely suspicious – and sometimes even publish their accusations as fact – so let me disclose here that I am not a profit participant in Mamtor or this collection.)

We underestimate a medium at our own peril. Particularly one as unassuming and kid-friendly as comics. But comics have a way of surprising you – like that second hit of acid you take just before you realize the first one is actually coming on a lot stronger than you expected. Once you’re into the trip that far, and committed for more, all that’s left to do is hang on and push through.

This stuff works in the gutters – the spaces between the panels, and between the pictures and words. Unlike a movie, which comes at you in one smooth stream of light and sound, or a book, which takes you on a linear journey, words flowing off the page like toothpaste out of the tube, comic art works on more than one level and at more than one time.

More like an incantation than a narrative, a kaleidoscope than a point of view, a sequence of images than portrait of anything, the succession of words and pictures on the following pages combine to create a mosaic that you must put together, yourself. No post-modernism needed, here; the world ahead is pre-deconstructed.

And as you put all this together in your head (if that’s where your thinking happens to take place) you’ll realize that this alchemical process is unique for its ability to convey the spaces between things. The liminal zones between waking and sleeping, alive and dead, or reality and fantasy.

This is where Mamtor’s writers and artists spend their time, and their work invites you to pass over the lip of the event horizon and closer to the strange attractor from which these bizarre visions surely emanate.

Yeah, it’s monsters, weird dreams, alternate realities, and forgotten worlds, but rendered in ways that promise to sneak past a reader’s literary defenses and a moviegoer’s jaded cynicism. By hitting you with images both primal and fantastic, and language both vernacular and magickal, these pages have the potential to open up a liminal space in your own cognitive matrix.

And though you may close this book when you’re done, that space may take much longer to heal over.