For the last year or so, Michael DeForge has been publishing perhaps his best work yet on instagram, one panel at a time. Leaving Richard’s Valley is a parable about freedom and safety, urbanization and gentrification, as a bunch of creatures living under the benevolent dictatorship of Richard have to strike out on their own when illness strikes.
This commentary on gentrification, hipster culture and the exclusionary nature of “progressive” groups is another great delight DeForge delivers to his readers. Reading the comic on twitter or instagram, day by day, sometimes means missing pages due to the nature of timing and algorithms. However, in several strips DeForge offers up biting observations about the worst aspects of living in a city— like finally, after a long, wandering homelessness, building a community on top of an imposing statue, only to have it torn down. As readers we take in a light-hearted, often humorous story about animals who are supposed to live outside, but the truth is that this is what cities do to homeless people who create their own communities. When the city ignored all protests and tore the Lyle statue down, I saw echoes of the recent forcing-out of a tight-knit tent city in my own Chicago neighborhood.
It was only a matter of time until a print edition was announced and D&Q has obliged with word they they will publish a 480 page hardcover next March!
Here’s a preview and the logline, but trust us, Leaving Richard’s Valley is hard social commentary of the highest grade