cover image The Whistling Factory

The Whistling Factory

Jesse McManus. Uncivilized, $29.95 trade paper (286p) ISBN 978-1-941250-29-7

McManus (Spider Monkey) unleashes a whirlwind of trippy short stories and gag comics, loosely connected only by their own warped sense of logic. With a rubbery line and relentless pacing, McManus owes as much to the Donald Duck stories of Carl Barks as he does to the cute but horrific comics of Jim Woodring. Whether it’s trying to figure out how to use a giant key, stealing a strange boy’s huge Swiss army knife, or wrestling with an arm-chomping killer plant, McManus’s characters pull the reader into uniquely bizarre environments. The unceasing, visceral, and frequently absurd violence brings to mind Tom and Jerry, with the kids and talking animals featured bouncing back from being stabbed, smashed, bent, and warped. Some of the pages grow so dense (and seemingly nonsensical) that it can be difficult to parse the action, requiring multiple readings in order to discern any narrative. The book’s occasionally impenetrable visuals can be off-putting, but a patient reader will be rewarded with a hilarious if labyrinthian series of darkly funny vignettes. (Aug).