Beta Testing the Apocalypse

Tom Kaczynski. Fantagraphics, $19.99 (136p) ISBN 978-1-60699-541-9
Several of the pieces in this collection (many of which were originally published in MOME) amount to familiar meanderings about society as a construct, emotions as manufactured, and human beings as marionettes/husks manipulated by unseen and uncontrollable institutional forces. Other stories, such as “Music for Neanderthals,” a satire of filmmakers and filmmaking, are hilariously sharp. Kaczynski’s range is wide, and in these chronologically arranged stories, we can trace an artistic development that begins as self-satisfied (the earlier stories have a slight “know-it-all” flavor) and becomes more searching and curious (the final story, “The New,” is an ambitious parable about corporate greed). In his appealing, clean duotone art, Kaczynski emphasizes gridlike compositions that reinforce his view of the world as pre-programmed, locked down, and fully controlled by forces he only hints at—the military-industrial complex or the Illuminati, perhaps. Although the later stories are more imaginative, there remains, throughout the book, a finger-wagging polemical streak of a type generally ill-suited to comics. Kaczynski, however, makes this work, and although his worldview won’t connect with everyone, there is plenty of smart humor and honest perspective. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/24/2012
Release date: 01/01/2013
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