It’s not often I find myself calling something surreal. I often write humor using an absurd premise and non-sequitur, usually a poor attempt after being inspired by Monty Python. I don’t often call things surreal because I don’t have a penchant for fine arts, and I can’t tell you renaissance from baroque, or why people consider Picasso a good artist. All I can tell you about the surreal is that Dali was part of the movement, and I can give you the dictionary definition.
Surrealism: a style of art and literature developed principally in the 20th century, stressing the subconscious or non-rational significance of imagery arrived at by automatism or the exploitation of chance effects, unexpected juxtapositions, etc. (dictionary.com)
What I can tell you is that when I do find something surreal, it means it’s had a truly unusual effect on my simpleton mind. Something was so truly weird or unsettling when juxtaposed with reality, that it had an effect, causing me to classify it as surreal.
When you mix horror with surreal, then it has a truly creepy effect. Junji Ito is a man that comes to mind, as he’s inspired by the eldritch concepts that plagued Lovecraft’s mind. Normal settings that quickly go awry with that hint of Japanese style horror, the kind that goes the extra mile past American slashers. How I’d describe what I’m writing about today, however, is a crappy, 4Chan Junji Ito with a religious flair. The Kotick Chronicles is an anomaly of web comics to me. It’s got crappy art, mixed with a surreal religious story of a boy, who shares a name with a bigwig at Blizzard, that dies and comes back from heaven. As far as I know, it’s an incomplete comic, and I’d rather it stay that way.
I found this about a year or two back, originally, either on /b/ or Reddit, and was intrigued by the weird panel I saw. So I searched it out, and found a Reddit post that had a 56 page album for this.
Bobby, the protagonist, is taken to his older friend’s house, and we’re not really explained as to how they know each other, or why, just that his friend is creepy, and a crappy tool for foreshadowing. Kotick then inexplicably dies, bleeding out for whatever reason, he wakes up in a vast emptiness, only to meet the edgy scribble of a 14 year old trying to make an album cover for Tool the poorly drawn gateway to any realm. This gateway informs him that he is in heaven, but due to its infinite size, it is unlikely that he’ll ever meet another soul in there. It’s at this point you find yourself getting bored with the writer’s religious/nihilistic musings, and I found myself unimpressed, there’s a concept here that could work, but it falls flat. The art is also absolute crap in general, but this gateway being is just so poorly drawn, poorly attempted, and looks like something my older sister drew in her goth phase. You know, back when hot topic was for a different kind of social outcast.
The party finds him dead and dumps him in an alleyway, where he wakes up after eating metaphysical demon caviar, and a homeless man somehow knows he came back from the dead. So does the redneck that took him to the party. The redneck, who after about 60 pages we finally learn his name is Blake, knows what Kotick saw, and knows it wasn’t right. So he wants to build heaven on earth, and it’s over. It ends there. Page 62 of the comic, there’s nothing more. It stops there. If I cared more about the story, I’d search it out, try to find something else, but this is who the story sucks. I don’t give a flying fuck how it ends. It failed to entrance me.
I wasn’t unsettled by its content, like I would be reading Ito, I’m unsettled by the emptiness of it. Everything is black and white and poorly drawn, the writer doesn’t put any effort into making a unique setting, so it feels empty. My mind isn’t simulated, it’s like staring at a blank wall. That’s why it’s surreal to me, it’s like reading a comic in a dream, rather than in reality.