Eurocomics Spotlight : Ana Galvan’s “Press Enter To Continue”

Running a stylistic gamut that incorporates everything from Manga to Art Deco to THX 1138 to Black Mirror, Spanish cartoonist Ana Galvan’s English-language debut, Press Enter To Continue — recently published in agreeably sleek and slender hardback format by Fantagraphics — is probably the most HONEST comic in at least semi-recent memory, using an economy of words and minimalist linework to make a bold statement on where we are as a society and where we’re going. It’s both “of the moment” and prescient at once, and immediately establishes Galvan as an auteur in the truest sense, to wit : someone with a singular message and a singular method of presenting and communicating it.
Formally inventive page layouts with a tight internal logic and a fluidity that’s as easy to grasp as it is completely unique mark this as an innovative work even before the pastel color palette, infused with eye-catching geometric design work, is added into the mix as a final touch, and given that we’re talking about a series of thematically and narratively intertwined vignettes set in a near future extrapolated entirely from events and trends already extant in today’s techno-riddled society, a self-contained, even hermetically sealed, visual language is essential when it comes to making the universal the personal, and perhaps even vice-versa. Our descent into a transhumanist hell may be taken as a given by some — perhaps even many — but here Galvan makes the problem look and feel as immediate, as urgent, as it no doubt is.
In Galvan’s version of, to quote Kirby, “the world that’s coming!,” data mining takes on a physical proportionality commensurate with its booming market capitalization, “human” resources departments are deployed in service of tasks that live up to their Orwellian name, corporate overlordship is silently acknowledged as the all-powerful force it’s been for decades already, and externally-transmitted suicidal ideation is the newest form of population control. And while her stories look like something 20 years ahead of their time, none of them particularly read as being at all far-fetched in any way, shape, or form.
Are you scared yet? Of course you are, and likely have been for a good, long time. But it never hurts to remember that fact, nor to acknowledge why.
Alienation from the self and its most basic needs and desires in order to sell them back to us in corrupted and ultimately empty form and keep us yearning for more has always been capitalism’s central project — the captains of industry take away human sexuality and sell us back pornography ; rob us of actual community and offer up a pale for-profit approximation of it via “social” media — but herein the hustle is made plain, and taken to its logical extremes. Abandon hope, all ye who enter here, and all that — but rest easy, for an entirely-unattainable artificial semblance of it is ever and always just a click, and a credit card payment, away. What you want? Baby, they go it.
Which isn’t to say that Press Enter To Continue is a fundamentally dystopian work — on the contrary, it’s something far more chilling than that. It operates under the depressingly accurate presumption that the dystopia is already upon us, and offers a series of road maps to its inevitable end points. Whether or not it’s the most memorable comic of the year is open to debate —although I’ll go on record right now as saying it very well might be — but to date it’s likely the most important one.
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This review — and all others around these parts — is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. In fact, it’s more than that — it’s taken from said Patreon site. And no, I promise, this isn’t just me being lazy.
You see, my friends, in an effort to gin up interest in said project, I’m offering a handful of “free previews” of the goings-on there, so if you like what you’ve read here, please do me a favor and direct your kind attention to https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

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