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Everything + Connectedness = Everythingness
Everythingness (Hic and Hoc Publications): The first thing I noticed about Neil Fitzpatrick’s latest offering was actually the exquisite production quality from Hic and Hoc Publications. There’s that slick paper feel, right alongside the crisp coloring and subsequent printing. Diving into things, it seems apparent that Fitzpatrick has been influenced to some degree by Ernie Bushmiller’s old Nancy strips; you can see it in the style of the big bulging blacked-out eyes and the general proportions of the figures. Fiztpatrick is by no means a one-note creator though. He’s a bit of an indie comics renaissance man, having put in his time doing web-comics and minis, bouncing back and forth from inclusion in key publications like Sammy Harkham’s Kramers Ergot to the creation of some very cool custom vinyl characters. This book opens with a fourth wall-breaking intro, which cleverly plays with our perceptions of creation. One of the things I appreciate the most is the creator’s use of sparse bold confident lines. In short, he’s not afraid to ink up the page. Honestly, at first I was thinking that “Everythingness” seemed like kind of a silly title, and that it’s a pet peeve of mine when creators make words like that up in an attempt to live into some artsy-fartsy stereotype that just comes off as pretentious. Ahem. Anyway, the more I read, the more that title seemed absolutely apropos. The majority of the strips are concerned with the characters’ connectedness to everything around them, a dynamic which helps to define their existence, whether it’s an omnipotent God, a potential lover, or a stray bird in the sky. One strip in particular is concerned with what makes an act (for example, swimming or flying) “magic,” and reveals that it’s all in our expectations and the language of perception. Typically we explain things with language, which is a man-made construct in the first place, so its fallible in its ability to articulate how the world truly works. You’ve heard scientists explain this, that a sufficiently advanced technology would appear as “magic” to a lesser developed being that hadn’t the sufficient interpretive mechanism available to comprehend it. That said, I found this to be a deeply philosophical work (which I was not expecting), despite the downright “fun” aesthetic it comes with. The contemplation of this state of being was handled with a childlike sense of curiosity via the characters, but revealed a more adult sense of interpretation, which created a great balance between the fun and the poignant. The ultimate denouement was one of role reversal, wherein the author goes from creator to creation, in a bit of a Mobius Strip loop back to the very first page. Considering the deep contemplation of Lauren Barnett’s Me Likes You Very Much, and now Neil Fitzpatrick’s newest project, it feels like Hic and Hoc Publications is quickly branding itself as the home of thinking man’s funny books. Grade A.