From the vault: Death and Candy
This review originally appeared in issue #251 of The Comics Journal.
Death and Candy #3
By Max Andersson
No one would ever confuse Max Andersson’s work with The Land of Sunshine and Roses, but the latest edition of his continuing series, Death & Candy, seems, if anything, bleaker and more morbid than previous efforts. Those who doubt my words need only glance at the story on the back cover – a particularly gruesome story that involves the violent mutilation of an infant and its mother via gunshot and ends with the mom wearing the baby’s mangled body like a ski cap. If that isn’t enough to deter the weak-hearted I don’t know what is.
The stories inside expertly mine along the same vein of death, disfigurement and black humor. In one, human organs violently rebel against their owners (“He had decided to give up drinking, and I just couldn’t take it” a kidney confesses) while a group of fugitives escape across the border by hiding in the body of an extremely obese lout. “The Viewers,” meanwhile, is a surreal nightmare of one woman’s journey through slime, sex and pubic hair that doubles as a sponge.
The real gem of the issue, though, is “Bosnian Flat Dog,” a continuing, joint effort with fellow artist Lars Sjunnesson. A whirlwind blend of fact and fiction, the pair uses the backdrop of war-torn Bosnia to create a disturbing but extremely witty tale. Here, mines and bombed out houses share space with a refrigerated corpse, the quite literal flat dogs of the title and grenades filled with ice cream. The net result disorients the reader (what, if any, part of their story is true?) and, at the same time, provides a distinct impression of life immediately after wartime.
While I’d rather read a lengthy, more sustained work from Andersson than have to content myself with these bits and pieces, I’m happy to get his work in whatever form I can. He’s one of the best absurdists working in comics today and while his stories may be borderline nihilistic, they’re consistently engaging, gripping and mordantly funny.