This is a partial and rough English version of my blog Just Indie Comics (Banner by Pat Aulisio)

martedì 24 febbraio 2015


Chris Cilla, Revival House Press, New York (USA), November 2014, 32 pages, black and white, $ 4.99. 

Labyrinthectomy/Luncheonette is a comic book by Chris Cilla published by New York-based Revival House Press. As the title suggests, this is a flip-book with two different stories merging into a two-page spread, where the characters meet in the same location. Cilla has been self-publishing mini-comics since 1987 and his work has been featured in anthologies such as Paper RodeoKramers Ergot, Studygroup Magazine. In 2010 Sparkplug Comics printed his graphic novel The Heavy Hand, his most ambitious work to date. He draws weirdos with huge noses, freaked-out cops, hippies and dopers with a typically underground curvy line. The most distinguishing feature of Cilla's comics is the way he develops the plot, using an almost literary stream of consciousness, sometimes expressed through a dadaist free association of ideas, others with a polyphony of voices that generates flashbacks, flashforwards, cross-references, catchphrases and pure nonsense. The mood is light-hearted and hilarious, but the varied formal solutions build a multilayered narrative, recalling a book by William Burroughs or Thomas Pynchon. Alluding to Burroughs, as Cilla depicts in Labyrinthectomy, the viewer is treated to such evocative imagery such as a limbless man spitting grape seeds and a walking brain coming out from the mouth of the author's stand-in character. Certain Pynchonesque-qualities seem more apparent in Luncheonette which is populated by anthropomorphic dogs dressed as detectives, hippie chefs and reactionary cops.

Eccentric theological theories and original considerations about existential themes lead to the end, set in a "minigolf maze" shaped as a "tofu cube", while a solar event spreads destruction outside. The central two-page spread rounds up almost the whole cast of the comic book, introducing a dynamic partition of the page that follows a diagonal line rather than the traditional horizontal and vertical coordinates we are used to. The final effect is unusual like observing everyday life with new eyes, without taking anything for granted. And perhaps this is the core of Cilla's comics, the marked opposition between ordinary contexts and anything but ordinary characters and situations. If you are a brain with hands and feet or an insect reading the newspaper on the toilet, you can understand what I mean.

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