The largely silent world of Andy Barron’s OM has always been one of contradictions. This carefully crafted science fantasy environment gives us an alien landscape that can contain the most fragile beauty and the most shockingly savage brutality. It’s a narrative reality that hints at autobiographical metaphor and yet is often oblique and obscure in delivery. A constant throughout, though, is its titular protagonist who wanders through his own fictional landscape acting not so much as catalyst for events but far more often as a victim of them.
Barron’s latest OM episode, Aman, is perhaps his most chilling yet as its allegorical nature feels all the more recognisable in its realisation. This is one of the rarer OM entries where vibrant colour is sacrificed but it’s more muted hues emphasise the oppressive themes of its subject matter.
In this entry our strangely sympathetic protagonist stumbles upon an odd factory-style complex. Making the mistake of allowing his curiosity to get the better of him he blunders in and soon finds himself a cog in the machine, pulled into the oppressive routine of this underground world. Slowly he finds himself becoming institutionalised and assimilated in what may be perhaps the most nihilistic instalment of the series to date.
Barron’s comics, by the artist’s own admission ask the reader to find their own meanings in their narratives but in terms of symbolism this may be the least oblique entry yet. As is to be expected from a master of comics pacing Barron deftly creates a sense of dragging time and routine through his page constructions; one though that eventually degenerates into a hallucinatory nightmare.
Publisher interest in a collection of the OM comics is long overdue (I can think of a number of major North American indie publishers for whom this would be a perfect fit!). In the meantime get yourselves to ELCAF this weekend and pick up the latest episode in this sprawlingly bizarre and wonderfully weird masterpiece. There truly is nothing out there quite like the world of OM.
Review by Andy Oliver