cover image Agony


Mark Beyer. New York Review Comics, $15.95 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-59017-981-9

Almost childlike in its energy and lack of story logic, this is a charming explosion of grotesque comedic misfortune, exactly as the title promises. Abstract doodles Amy and Jordan careen at breakneck pace through a slapstick series of bad things, including horrible diseases, a stint in jail, terrible jobs, battles with murderers, and various other calamities; the pace jumps from incident to incident thanks to between-the-panel miracles and expository dialogue. Through it all, the pair manages to keep their chins up mostly, barring a few descents into the abyss on Amy’s part, which is understandable since she bears the brunt of the physical pain. Originally a one-shot from Raw Books in 1987, complete with Spiegelman and Mouly design work, Beyer’s calamitous comedy has aged well, its geometric, densely patterned imagery recalling fine art as much as comics and still packing a punch among today’s alternative cartoonists. (Mar.)