Marco Testa’s I’m Hanged, is a dark and morbid journey into an artist’s mind as he seeks deeper meaning, only to be picked apart and told his work is non-sensical. Not so much breaking the fourth wall, the work instead takes the reader on a morbid, horrific, crass, and often humorous adventure drenched in the imagery of sexuality, violence, and chaos.
The loose narrative that drives the book is through a protagonist, arguably Marco Tetsa himself, being given the gift of an alternative perspective through the hands of another (perhaps the craft of art itself). This throws him into a metaphysical nightmare chalked full of deformed entities and extreme body mutilation/horror. While the premise may sound indulgent, a case of personal superiority spread across the pages, Tetsa balances a dark wit and a wildly varying stylistic approach that sees him both celebrate and poke fun at the medium.
Largely dialogue-free, the story also benefits from the varied and self-aware approach of Testa. The abstract narrative structure expresses pain, horror, and personal reflection through shifts in style that make the story wonderfully chaotic.
At first impression, the work may seem crude in this approach as the illustrations can be overly simplistic, yet there are certain panels that really key the reader in on the talents of its creator. This approach speaks to the underground aesthetic of comics and its ‘f*** you’ punk attitude where an artist can indulge in silly deviations only to hit the reader with a detailed panel that proves his prowess as both a storyteller and artist.
It is also important to note that despite the delivery of the story being frantic and abstract, the narrative itself is easy to follow when interpreting it through the lens of materializing internal conflict. Moments such as a man pressing his own body within a glass container (think old alchemic conundrum of turning shit into gold) are not completely abstract under the context of the artist’s inner exploration of his own craft. Consequently, the work is a love letter to the craft. Its ability to define our own sense of self as much as it is taking the piss out of pretentiousness within the medium–it is a wild trip full of opposing ideas.
Where the work pokes its head into the realm of horror, is in its aspects of extreme body distortions–strife and story progression is often conveyed through the contorting of normal forms. As he explores his inner working, the protaganist becomes an empty shell–eyes plucked, limbs mutilated– and the world around him seems to have an appetite for presenting their perverted and deformed bodies to the wandering artist. Certainly, this is not ‘horror’ in the traditional sense, but one of the release’s greatest attributes for fans of the genre is the uncomfortable depictions of human suffering that Tetsa gleefully pushes onto the readers.
Released by Hollow Press, the work is given the ideal presentation and high-quality attention– You can even gouge out the eyes of the bundle’s mess of a man on the front cover. The quality of print and presentation certainly helps with the self-reflective narrative. Furthermore, the panels that are lush with texture through the layering of black lines/dots are beautifully textured and pop on the high-quality stock.
I’m Hanged is going to be limited in larger appeal, though this is inherent in the work and a positive for those looking for alternative narratives in the comic medium whom mainstream dwells in the realm of mediocrity and empty pandering. Fans of underground and experimental comics should find themselves being dragged down the chaotic path that Marco Tetsa has crafted. It is also a title that is easy for a quick browse or more introspective read giving the work longevity.
Fans of alternative comics and narratives should certainly check this out. Also, make sure to check out other releases from Hollow Press. We recommend checking out the work of Daisuke Ichiba, you can read our review of his last release, KSKHH.
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