Review: The Boy In Question by Michael DeForge

Michael DeForge’s work has broadened my perspectives over the past two years. I became fascinated with Ant Comic in late 2012, which later became Ant Colony now published by Drawn and Quarterly. I’ve been looking to pick up more of his work since reading Very Casual last winter, and I got a copy of The Boy In Question at SPACE from John Porcellino of Spit and a Half.

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The Boy In Question is 20 pages of black and white comics with a color cover published by Space Face Books. It has pretty solid construction and bright cover illustration, which makes it stick out in a stack of comics. It’s a very tactile book.

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 It’s hard to miss DeForge’s art, it’s a huge reason to pick up any of his books. I’m surprised by how different The Boy In Question looks compared to Ant Colony, but both are easily recognizable as DeForge’s work. The panel construction for both books is very similar, but in The Boy In Question, DeForge uses panels to separate time and fracture the narrative, which is pretty neat.

 Because DeForge’s cartooning is relatively abstract, The Boy In Question lends itself to abstraction. It’s hard not to read into it a peculiar genesis story, except with the incestuous relationships alluded to in the Old Testament fully on display, and a lot more dog eating. That the “backup”  the soldiers request is both never promised or arrives to collect the found uniform is telling; at a point further on in the story, the descendants of the progenitors are praying to the radio and have even built a temple for it. The ominous BZZT continues to echo throughout civilization hundreds and thousands of years after any normal battery would have died. Unlike the intervening god of Abraham, this creature offers no help or strength.

 Overall I am intrigued by The Boy In Question. Despite its short length, it rewards rereading, and it gives you a small look into DeForge’s impressive imagination. You can buy a copy if you are so inclined at Space Face’s website.

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