THOUGHT BUBBLE 2022! We all like an intriguing premise that immediately grabs us before we even begin reading a comic. Christof Bogacs and Becca Kubrick’s Meat 4 Burgers certainly accommodates us in that regard. It begins with “Trace” (a name later ascribed to them rather than their given one) waking up in a cardboard box in a fast food restaurant with no idea who they are or how they got there. All they know is that they are now an employee of the Val-U-BurgerTM corporation, an outlet apparently floating in space…
The reader’s imagination is immediately captured because Bogacs and Kubrick throw us straight into the unknown, requiring us to piece together the mystery alongside Trace as they learn about their new environment. Trapped with them in this pedestrian but sinister existential hell are a number of Val-U-BurgerTM co-workers: Britt the authoritative boss, the ever eager Boyd, “burger artist” Jackie, and veteran Phillip who seems to be in a perpetual stupor. All are in exactly the same situation as Trace, only they’ve had a lot more time to acclimatise…
Meat 4 Burgers doesn’t so much build up a mystery as continually open up new ones, and at this point two issues in that’s a huge part of its appeal. Serving the strange inhuman customers that frequent the diner leads to overwhelming visions that give Trace pieces of their past in flashback while bizarre fast food-themed rituals are a vital part of their survival in their new locale. Writer Bogacs has created an enticing weird fantasy here but it’s more than just the sum of its surreal parts. There’s certainly a strand of social commentary too from the obvious take on minimum wage jobs to the commodification of art in one of Trace’s flashbacks.
Where this is all going remains to be seen but the second chapter raises even more questions that emerge via a talking toilet wall and revelations about the fate of previous Val-U-BurgerTM workers. Artist Kubrick’s visual storytelling has evolved and grown significantly since I last reviewed their work in Coby, Alone last year. In terms of atmosphere the burger restaurant feels isolated and claustrophobic, adding to the intensity of its inhabitants’ ordeal. The nightmarish vision sequences are especially impressive with irregular panel structures and snaking word balloon placements creating a tangible sense of disorientation. In the second issue a hallucinatory sequence where Trace becomes immersed in a flood of vomit is particularly unsettling.
Meat 4 Burgers is exactly the kind of work that hooks you from the very beginning and leaves you with a voracious appetite for answers. Of course its ultimate success will depend on its denouement but on the strength of these first two issues I will certainly be following this absorbing series to the end.
Christof Bogacs (W), Becca Kubrick (A) • Self-published, £5.00
Becca Kubrick is at Table 86A in the ComiXology Hall at Thought Bubble 2022
Review by Andy Oliver