Aldo by Yannick Pelegrin
Europe Comics

What is going on with Aldo? He says he is immortal, having lived for 300  years, but sometimes his memory is sketchy after all that time, and he is stricken with the type of ennui that comes from such a long life. He loves his car and his friend Oscar’s dog, a pug named Gustav, though his visits to Oscar aren’t as satisfying since Oscar is in some sort of dementia-driven trance.

But then Aldo see something on television that sets off fireworks in his head. It’s something that he thinks might explain himself to himself, or at least make clear the circumstances of the life he has been living and the strange recurring vision he has been having.

But Aldo does not exist within linear time. Rather, he inhabits an emotional timescape of illusions and loneliness where the questions that need to be asked are as mysterious as the answers Aldo seeks. Through Aldo, the reader is taken through this world with the hope of getting some explanation, but that is only provided in the merest snatches of moments that are gone the instant they appear.

Belgian cartoonist Pelegrin crafts a mysterious, contemplative story that sits on top of a quiet tension that infects it throughout. What is the universe hiding from Aldo? Can Aldo ever completely know? Can we? Confusion is rarely rendered in such an elegant manner.

The Escape Team #1 by David Cowles
Idlewild Recordings

This companion comic to a new album from They Might Be Giants (LP or CD) features a collection of characters that makes me think of a convention of former cover models for Plop. Given that 1970s DC vibe, I guess it’s not surprising that the comic itself reminds me a little bit of The Outsiders, the superteam of freaks that appear in First Issue Special #10 and always fascinated me as a kid. That was definitely a comic I wanted more of and never got. Add in a tinge of Freakies cereal and the Residents’ Bad Day on the Midway early CD-Rom project and it’s obvious there’s a lot of precedence for the scenario here.

The album itself consists of 11 short songs about the members of the Escape Team, folks like Mr. Mischief Night, Re-Pete Offender, and The Poisonousness. The comic offers an introductory scenario to their existence, the victims of radiation accidents that have been gathered into a top-secret prison and held in the name of public safety. We’re introduced to each one and offered their specific origin through a tour of the facilities being given to a senator before all hell breaks loose and the group of characters becomes a team in earnest.

It’s brief, it’s slight, but it’s good fun, and it’s best read with the accompaniment of the music. Cowles has a retro-style that services the humor, but there’s enough to the characters that you wouldn’t mind seeing more of them in comics form, though maybe an audio adventure like the old Power Records releases would be appropriate as well.

Goat Song by Larkin Ford
Birdcage Bottom Books

Butcher’s assistant Roy has some weird gaping wound on his leg and after it gets worse while he tries to ignore, he ends up at the hospital to have it taken care of. The outcome is worse than either he or his wife imagined, but the result of the procedure is an addition to their family that takes the story on a disturbing and fairly cryptic course. I’m hesitant to spill too much here — not because of story spoilers so much as ruining the mood of the book as it unfolds.

If Goat Song at times is reminiscent of an old EC horror comic from the 1950s, it also has a dash of David Lynch to it, specifically Eraserhead. Partly a tale of biology gone awry, Ford also portrays wishful thinking in the face of bizarre situations and the mental stress of acting willfully ignorant in such a situation. There’s something so intensely disturbing about Goat Song, but at the same time, I can’t add any clear worded coherency to what it left me with. Perhaps you need to see for yourself and tell me.