Should You Throw Your Money Into The “Black Budget”?

In my time, I’ve certainly reviewed some strange comics for this site (and others), but few have left me as legitimately perplexed as Black Budget #1, the self-published debut issue of what appears to be an ongoing series by the pseudonymous Folie a Deux — a guy who certainly wears his heart on his sleeve in that he’s unafraid to put his conspiratorial worldview and personal sexual fetishes out there for all to see. And while I always salute cartoonists willing to “bare all” in the metaphorical sense, my admiration for their fearlessness and/or obliviousness doesn’t extend so far as to give their work a free pass. You want a positive review out of me? You’ve gotta earn it on the page.

That’s all well and good, of course, but what’s especially tricky to determine about this comic is whether or not it does, in fact, “earn it.” On the one hand, Folie a Deux can sure as hell draw. His figure work is an interesting mix of the anatomically accurate and the idealized (especially when it comes to women’s butts), the shading techniques he employs are sophisticated and stylish, his page layouts visually literate and pleasing to the eye. And yet —

His over-reliance on photo reference grates pretty quickly, most panels feel posed and stiff — there’s just not a whole lot of life in these drawings. They look and feel clinical, antiseptic, all style and no substance. On a purely technical level they’re generally impressive, but there’s no flow from one to the next. Each is a frozen moment in time, with emphasis on the frozen. And as for the story those moments in time are stitched together to relate —

I did mention this was strange stuff, didn’t I? That doesn’t preclude it from being interesting, of course — quite the opposite, truth be told — but “interesting” doesn’t necessarily automatically translate to mean “good.” This is largely expository material from start to finish, a rote recitation, whether it be by means of dialogue or caption boxes, of a government-sponsored “sex slave” mind control operation, the sort of thing that’s gained traction in the public consciousness in the so-called “internet age.” Framing it all around Monica Lewinsky fellating Bill Clinton under his Oval Office desk is certainly a — unique was to go about things, and fulfills the cover’s promise of “Erotic. Espionage. Conspiracy. Action,” but you’re only going to buy into it to the extent that you’re willing to believe that a US president would order the destruction from the skies of a pharmaceutical plant in Africa just to cover his tracks.

Okay, maybe not his tracks specifically, but the federal government’s tracks in relation to “MK ULTRA” and “Project Monarch” stuff. There’s a bunch of nudity if that’s what you’re into (most of us are, I suppose, to one degree or another), but be forewarned that the women in the comic are generally portrayed as either “honey traps” sent out into the big. bad world  to lure powerful men into compromising positions and situations, or else as lab rats undergoing various scientific processes to turn them into such. Folie a Deux is clearly trying to weave a far-ranging tapestry of secrecy and deceit here, but he only gets so far with it in a standard-length funnybook, and as a result, the final verdict on how successfully (or otherwise) he pulls off this spy story version of Eyes Wide Shut (complete with cult-y figures in masks and robes) well and truly remains to be seen. There’s a kind of admittedly disturbing internal logic at work here, but the obsessive attention to the prurient really limits things. I’m certainly no square when it comes to sex in comics, but it’s nice when it’s integral to the actual proceedings rather than relegated to serving as a quick-and-easy framework device. I’m just sayin’ —

And while I’m doing precisely that, I will definitely say  one thing : at no point in this comic did my attention ever wander or waver. Folie a Deux may be too hung up on channeling his point through his story rather than having it naturally arise as a result of it, but I’m curious enough about this dense and dark global conspiracy to check out further installments of the series and see if mysterious cartoonist can bring some genuine passion to his fixations. To answer my own earlier question, then : there’s definitely something interesting happening here, and if it evolves into something good, then I’ll be happy to continue paying attention.


For more information on Black Budget, check out

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3 thoughts on “Should You Throw Your Money Into The “Black Budget”?

  1. Folie à Deux here, I cannot thank you enough for your review of my work. Above all I find your criticism to be constructive, and your perspective valuable.

    I would be the first to admit that issue one is expository in nature- it’s brevity prevents nuance, that is certainly true. The nature of Black Budget is to meld the real and documented with the fictitious and scantly corroborated per the subject of mind control. The only thing I would like to state for the record, is that in the broad realm of ‘conspiracy culture’ there are concepts and beliefs that I endorse and concepts and beliefs that I do not- inclusion of a concept or belief in Black Budget does not reflect an endorsement of them. The so-called Project Monarch is not a documented fact- nor does it reflect my attitude towards women. Yet it is a staple in the mixture of declassification + folklore that the subject of mind control presents- thus it is a topic Black Budget will continue to elaborate on.

    Thank you again for exploring my work, perhaps there will be more to say when further issues are released.


    1. Ryan C. (trashfilmguru)

      Thanks so much for noticing my review and for taking the time to reply. Your points are all well-taken and I hope that people will feel compelled to give your work a shot, as it’s utterly unlike anything else out there right now. Yeah, I had some constructive criticisms to offer, but I’m still very interested to seeing where you go with this story and will be very much looking forward to future installments!


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