“Two demons practice the forbidden art of dress-up” is given premise of Geov’s Mercury’s Closet, another comic from the October-running Shortbox Fair which highlights the breadth and diversity of approaches to comics narrative on offer there this month. A 16-page short by Geov (whose contribution to a recent issue of Peow Studios’ Ex-Mag anthology was well-received by our Rebecca Burke earlier this year here) it’s a neat blend of the gloriously ridiculous and the oddly poignant. A comic that for all its bizarre ostentation also strikes an unlikely emotional chord.
Our focus here is on two demonic entities who journey to the upper circles of the netherworld to visit a charity shop for unholy objects. There they peruse the garment section, trying on the apparel they find therein to discordant comedic effect. In the process, though, secrets are hinted at and an unlikely diabolic fragility comes very much to the fore…
Much of the humour in Mercury’s Closet comes from the incongruous juxtaposition of ideas (the “infernal cutlery” section in the charity shop particularly stands out) and the visual absurdity of these fiendish representatives of otherworldliness as they garb themselves in more mortal and mundane clothing. But Geov’s ability to suddenly shift tone and emphasis to something far more heartfelt is profoundly felt, adding a surprising and ironic humanity to events.
The “3D” art effects here appear to combine modelling and more traditional comics storytelling. The black and white nature of the comic complements its somewhat brooding atmosphere but it’s the “tactile” feel of the pages that captures the imagination, creating a sense of physicality that changes how we perceive and interact with elements on the page. The perspective as the demons walk up a spiral stairway on the edge of a what seems like a neverending drop down to hell, for example, or the sprawling, serpent-like form of the charity shop owner. Geov’s eschewing of anything even vaguely approaching standard comics panel-to-panel storytelling, giving each page a more freeform look also adds to the unconventional allure of Mercury’s Closet. It’s a comic that invites the reader to infer deeper themes from its pages for themselves (or perhaps even project their own onto its ending) and for all its early dark frivolity has hidden layers. You can pick up this e-minicomic offering from the Shortbox Fair page here.
Geov (W/A) • Shortbox Fair, Fair price payment
Review by Andy Oliver