Thursday, April 18, 2013

Delirium Issue No. 1

By Nick Calavera

Delirium apparently started as an idea called Kingdom of Monsters, but I think that the current title better represents what's inside the comic as I frequently had no idea what was going on. Well, that's a bit unfair, I generally understood what was happening in each chapter/story in this comic, but I really don't understand how they fit together or why they're happening.

Delirium starts with a naked girl (of course!) going to sleep and dreaming of a bizarre cityscape filled with monsters. She wakes up and suddenly monsters are in her room. Some are after her, while one seems to be trying to protect her (or at least is better at hiding their motivations regarding her). It might be a touch confusing, but more in the questions it raises about the world they're in than anything else. I'm curious and want to learn more.

The second story starts the confusion. Is that a different naked girl? Is this set before the previous story? What the hell is going on? And then there are pin ups of a naked girl (the same naked girl?) in front of ruined buildings and surrounded by bizarre creatures. Then the final comic features the girl (who now has a robot arm, wings and a facial tattoo) fighting a chainsaw handed monster.

More than anything else this comic reminds me of two things: the comics of Tsutomu Nihei and Heavy Metal magazine. Okay, so I guess those are in fact lots of different things, but if I say "Heavy Metal" style to someone (that knows what it is) they generally understand what I'm talking about: weird sci-fi/fantasy stuff with lots of violence and boobs.

The blank faced characters, the violence, the weird architecture, and the fact that I don't really know what's going on really reminds me of Nihei's comic Blame!. Now, I love blame, and I originally "read" it in Japanese and French and had _no_ idea what was going on. The fact that I still really liked it really says something about how compelling I found the comic to be. Comics appearing in Heavy Metal are also frequently filled with violence and weird architecture, and often print middle chapters or comics with no explanation of what's going on, but they are perhaps better known for being filled with boobs, and that is really where this comic reflects that.

There is no reason why the main character is naked all the time other than that the author wants to draw her that way. Up to a certain point I respect artists who draw what they want and don't care about external critics, but at the same time I think I would enjoy this comic a lot more if there was less nudity. I'm not opposed to nudity in my comics, but in this case it just seems really blatant and exploitative.

I generally enjoy the art style Calavera uses (especially for many of the background elements and settings), I like many of the aspects of the story (monsters, weird cities), and I'm okay with not really knowing what's going on in the story. But I still feel kind of uncomfortable with this comic, and I'm reminded of the guilty feelings I've had when reading stories (like Druuna) in issues of Heavy Metal. So what's the answer/solution? I have no idea.

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