Friday, December 31, 2021

31 Days Of CCS, #38: Ian Richardson

Serial killers, as a genre, were played out a long time ago. There are only so many ways one can twist the concept that's not outrageously sexist, racist, and/or homophobic. There's also something lurid and exploitative about these kinds of fictional stories, and they tend to bring out justifications of godhood in these delusional, pathetic killers. Ian Richardson turns serial killer tropes on their head with his very clever On Mondays I Murder. It's told in the form of a first-person day planner, which virtually every panel being a reference either to a classic painting or something in pop culture, only with the likeness of one of the three main characters in the book. 

The first couple of chapters are a play on American Psycho-style serial killer narratives. The killer goes into loving detail about his "calling," as just another way of casually flaunting conspicuous wealth. He is above the law because he's white and rich; it's implied that he killed his own rich father in order to fund his lifestyle. When his next target mysteriously disappears, it throws off his rhythm and sense of well-being as though his calendar controlled him, and not the other way around--and to a degree, this is true. 

He eventually finds a secret diary written by his target, which reveals her as someone who's every bit as nihilistic as he is. She's constantly being objectified and finds the concept of love to be a joke. Her prey happens to be any man interviewing her for a job; it's a game for her to seduce him. The serial killer deduces that she may have been kidnapped by another serial killer, and he's right. 

Rather than shift the narrative to the other killer, it instead shifts to the "victim," as she announces that she's just killed two guys. In the long and intricate process the rich killer undertakes to attack and then convert the second killer to his cause, he never thought for a moment about the victim as anything other as a means to an end. It's the ultimate kind of depersonalization and detachment necessary for killers to operate; not only are their victims othered, every living thing is othered. She uses that against them and winds up replacing them, killing on her own terms. 

This comic gets into a highly bleak, nihilistic frame of mind and combines that with pitch-black humor. It's a satire of wealth, it's a satire of having a higher purpose, and at its heart it's a warning against the kind of isolation that a capitalist society frequently engenders. Their cynicism and contempt for others fuels their isolation, to the point where it warps them into only being able to think of others as objects at hand in the most extreme ways possible. In a warped, demented way, killing is the only time they have a glimmer of connection with someone else, and even that is heavily mediated by control rather than freely making themselves vulnerable. In the eyes of each character, even before they started to kill, the world was a binary of causing or receiving pain--and they chose to do the latter. The twist in this book is clever, as is leaving it open-ended isn't any kind of endorsement of her choice; indeed, she's become exactly the same kind of banal monster who thinks she's above it all. 

No comments:

Post a Comment