Review: Ant Colony / Author: Michael DeForge / Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly / Release Date: Out Now
Ever wondered what it’s like to live in an ant colony? Of course you haven’t, you’re a sane rational person with a wealth of distractions mere finger clicks away. Cartoonist Michael DeForge however has imagined it to be a place similar to a seedy underground sex dungeon. One which sees horny insects fuel up on the stench of ant corpse as an aphrodisiac, before lining up in an orderly queue to satisfy their scarily well endowed Queen. Interest piqued? Then prepare to meet your new favourite graphic novel.
Ant Colony is the latest comic delight from Michael DeForge, an artist whose contributions as a designer to the hit TV series Adventure Time has created a platform for his independent works, leading him to be touted as the next prominent voice in the realm of alternative comics. With this latest work he looks set to justify these claims, injecting the frenzied spirit of Adventure Time inside an adult and outrageously comical story. His minimal yet striking art style reveals an ant colony in gradual decline as it struggles to contend with the perilous world above.
The entire book is dressed in a surreal psychedelic haze, with trippy visual designs like the vehicular centipedes and hound-faced spiders feeling right at home against the abstract colour palette. The central characters are just as wonderfully bizarre, with twisted ant cops and paranoid younglings riffing on other comic book and movie genre tropes in both funny and unsettling ways. Once you’ve finished Ant Colony, don’t be surprised if you find yourself keeping a worried eye out for earthworms on your next stroll in the great outdoors.
As for the book's visuals, the fantastic cartoon art on display in Ant Colony will have you constantly looking back through its pages. Each panel pops, revelling in its distasteful nature, with imaginative drawings and some stunningly gruesome one page spreads. Particular standouts are the Queen’s creepy human-like design and a vivid battle scene with the red ants, where decapitations and dismembered limbs are the order of the day.
Like most comics that celebrate the excessively unusual, Ant Colony will perhaps only appeal to a certain anarchic mindset. If you find yourself frowning at the idea of sex-crazy ants taking part in wars, personal relationships and surprisingly bleak narratives, then you probably won’t find much joy here. But if you thrive on the weird and wonderful, DeForge’s Ant Colony is an unmissable celebration of the dark and unique.