Sunday, 9 August 2015

Ant Colony by Michael DeForge Review


Ant Colony is a subversive look at Western society through the prism of anthropomorphised ants. A couple of gay ants have relationship troubles; everyone’s bothered by the repetitive drudgery of their work and the seeming pointlessness of keeping their Queen happy; a father gives bad advice to his son regarding an earthworm leading to his son becoming a prophet(!); there’s an ant-hunt to catch a serial-killing spider; and war with the red ants, a neighbouring colony, begins. 

This was my first Michael DeForge comic and, having now finished it, I’m not encouraged to rush back for more. Ant Colony has an interesting look to the art - it’s very colourful, the creatures are designed weirdly, with a dog face for a spider, and a cheerful limo-look to the centipede, and the ants all look like anything but ants - but DeForge’s various rambling plotlines don’t really go anywhere. 

The kid with the earthworm story is a lot like the Itchy & Scratchy parody of Disney’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice where Scratchy chops up Itchy so many times Itchy becomes a vapour which Scratchy inhales and dies. A similar thing happens when the kid blends the earthworm and inhales it because earthworms in this world can’t die. Then the kid becomes a prophet or something to the bees and… that’s it. Wha…? 

The ants fight the red ants because… that’s what they do. And that’s what humans do, fight each other, and that’s the point, isn’t what we do all so silly, etc. The gay couple fight and break up and so what. DeForge’s point seems to be life is stupid and pointless and the ants are the humans, etc. We’ve all read books with a similar nihilistic outlook so I’m not sure what makes DeForge’s one any better especially as he doesn’t provide any original insight. I didn’t crack a smile but maybe some people found this hilarious because they’re... ants?

I tried reading this 6 months ago and gave up because I was so bored. I forced myself through the whole thing this time around and, yup, boring again. DeForge is a very poor storyteller whose book feels as pointless to read as the ants’ lives. The unique character designs are imaginative but the writing is immensely tedious.

Ant Colony

2 comments:

  1. As an alternative to this sort of thing that has better storytelling, yet preserves a unique style and vision in the art, try reading Jesse Jacobs "Safari Honeymoon".

    ReplyDelete
  2. As an alternative to this sort of thing that has better storytelling, yet preserves a unique style and vision in the art, try reading Jesse Jacobs "Safari Honeymoon".

    ReplyDelete