July 17, 2014

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Everythingness by Neil Fitzpatrick

Written and Illustrated by Neil Fitzpatrick
Published by Hic & Hoc

The comics creator as God, animals that think their normal routines are magic, mental powers, and even a bit of philosophy come together in this collection of comics from Neil Fitzpatrick, written as a group of "Neil Jams."

There's some good work to be found right now in mini-comics that take a bit of a surreal approach to ordinary situations. Taking the idea of creation and how it works in terms of being the God of a visual world can go in a lot of different directions. Here, Fitzpatrick balances making it a joke and thinking about it seriously, and it works quite well.

Opening with an introduction that places the author inside the world itself, cartoon Neil debates God over who is the true creator of the comic itself, if God created Neil. "What am I, chopped liver?" asks the eternal being. Some trickery ensues, putting Neil on top of the situation--for awhile, at least.

Moving on from there, a character desires companionship and gets one, echoing the Adam-Eve dynamic. This main character also interacts with the animals who think they're magic, which has a great joke about how it was impossible to see if the fish was doing anything magical--because it was in the water. Simple under-cutting of the grand ideas presented in Everythingness is typical here. Whenever things get just a bit deep, something shows up to turn it on its ear. A short, two page strip featuring God is perhaps the best encapsulation of that feeling. After discussing how hard it is to be God, he kills a bunch of people by showing them the truth.

Fitzpatrick's linework is distinctive. His basic humanoid character is all arms and legs, with barely any body. His animals are cartoon versions, which fits the fact that they don't act naturally. Backgrounds help set the scene, but the emphasis is on the situations the characters find themselves in and the dialogue that goes along with the scenes. I really like how Fitzpatrick uses blacks and various shadings that take advantage of using a zip-a-tone style to fill in areas.  Though there are not a lot of intricate details in the lines, that's not the point. There's still a great deal that the art does to help carry the moment. A certain look in a character's mostly blank face or the positioning of an animal to punctuate a joke put the emphasis just where it needs to be.

Everythingness is a fun comic for those who enjoy the quirkier side of minis, like James Kochalka or even some of the earlier Box Brown  material. You might be able to find it at a show or a local store, or you can pick it up directly from Hic & Hoc here.