Monday, November 13, 2017

Minis From Holly Simple

Let's take at some recent mini-comics from Holly Simple. Killing Carrot Top is pretty self-explanatory, as Simple has a fantasy scenario where she's working a show for the infamous body-building prop comedian who's wearing a speedo that doesn't contain his genitalia at all. In a style and color scheme not unlike Meghan Turbitt's craziest comics, Simple can no longer tolerate the worship he received, especially from extremely sexually willing female fans. Her prayers are literally answered by a divine being who hands her a blade that she uses to slice and dice him in the most visceral but cartoonish manner possible. Just at the peak moment of her triumph, she sees that the cross around his neck has suddenly taken on his facial features: she's turned Carrot Top into Jesus! It's a hilarious twist ending worthy of an especially deranged EC horror comic. The comic works because Carrot Top has become such a bizarre figure who was a hacky comedian to begin with.

Simple's comics often have perfectly benign premises that somehow wind up in limb-rending violence. Take Serenity Retreat, for instance. Simple's powerful sense of design bonks the reader over the head with her over-the-top sensory experiences of going on a nature hike and smelling Smores being made at a campfire. In her frenzy to cool off the metal blade she's used to make her marshmallow/chocolate treat, she accidentally manages to cut everyone else around the campfire to ribbons. The huge and unsettling nostril image she used throughout the comic (to convey the delicious smell of the Smores) was suddenly filled with the charnel stench of the burning, dead bodies cooking at the campfire. Simple accidentally becomes the Smores Grim Reaper, another moment of realization that horrifies her as much as the Carrot Top revelation in the other comic.

Finally, How Many Calories In Trichotilomania? combines the exploration of hunger as an almost violent force with her revulsion for much of humanity as she is happily traipsing around the city until she gets hungry. After buying a bagel, she runs to catch a subway train. As she's about to eat her bagel (the theme of almost getting what she wants runs through many of her comics), an extremely gross guy doing gross things with something stuck in his face (I couldn't quite tell if it was just a long and unruly hair or a jagged piece of glass) gets her so nauseated that she vomits uncontrollably all over herself and worse, her bagel. The lurid colors and over-the-top nature of the action makes the other two comics reviewed here seem reserved in nature. Simple has a way of depicting simple wants and needs in a dramatic, in-your-face manner that focuses on the tiniest details and blows them up beyond recognition. There's a sense of righteousness that's opposed at every moment in her comics, or else her own attempts at making things right and joyful in the world going horribly awry. Simple is less about going after a fanciful, weird world than she is in simply drawing a powerful, visceral reaction.

No comments:

Post a Comment