Entropy Editions Round-Up : “The Beast” By Danielle Chenette

Continuing with out perusal of publisher Justin Skarhus’ Entropy Editions offerings, we come to catalogue number EE03, Los Angeles-based cartoonist Danielle Chenette’s The Beast, a deceptively “naive” comic that actually wryly and rather expertly deconstructs everything from the role of myth in society to “gun culture” to sibling dynamics to gaming to toxic masculinity — and somehow manages to do it all with a smile on its face and nary a hint of self-important lecturing. In fact, this unassuming little coming-of-age fable is actually, dare I say it, quite a bit of fun.

“Don’t go in the woods” is a common enough trope in popular culture — it’s even served as the title of at least two films that I’m aware of — but here Chenette cleverly and ingeniously transposes it into the internet age, where stories of things that go bump in the night have been amplified to an absurd degree rather than finally put to rest by the forces of rationality, putting the lie to the quaint hope that we all probably held in the early days of the so-called “information” superhighway. But I suppose I digress.

Or do I? Because the idea of superstition or irrationality manipulated to the benefit of some is also one of the themes Chenette tackles here, albeit in more personalized form than large-scale phenomena such as QAnon. Still, it’s part and parcel of everything to unpack in this 32-pager, and while the downright whimsical art style, naturalist dialogue, and freeform, near-intuitive page layouts employed in the telling of this tale might cause one to discount its thematic heft and weight, in reality we’ve got more than a bit of a velvet glove/iron fist dichotomy at work here — albeit one that lands its punches in, for lack of a better term immediately coming to mind, a decidedly pleasing fashion.

Fear not, though, dear reader, for while your humble critic here may sounds both confused and confusing, Chenette’s comic is anything but, and in most key respects stands out as the most traditional of Entropy Editions’ releases to date. Sure, at its core one could argue that it’s an inherently experimental work in that it densely packs a number of fairly serious subjects and themes into a crisp, even breezy, narrative structure, but I think such a reading could also result from yours truly having been at the review game for so long that I veer into the overly-analytical almost by default. It may, in fact, simply be that Chenette is really good at what she does and is therefore able to grapple with topics of extreme import without belaboring any particular points. You’ll know you’re being offered plenty to think about here, make no mistake, but you won’t feel like you’re being forced to think about any of it.

Call it sleight of hand if you must, skill if you’re feeling more generous, but either way this comic hits it out of the park in terms of doing exactly what it sets out to do — and its goals and aims are actually quite ambitious, both formally and conceptually. This is just about as self-assured as the art form of cartooning gets, if you’ll permit me to speak plainly (and hey, it’s my blog, so good luck stopping me), and in a world where the term “highest possible recommendation” gets thrown about far too freely, this is work absolutely worthy of such an accolade.
Are you still here? Forget about my blathering, go order this comic!


The Beast is available for $7.00 from the Entropy Editions online shop at https://entropyeditions.bigcartel.com/product/the-beast

Review wrist check – Formex “Reef” green dial/green bezel model riding its factory-issue stainless steel bracelet, which is a damn work of art in and of itself. Formex’s bracelets are some of the best in the business, outdoing the likes of Tag Heuer, Longines, and most of the bigger players in their price range with ease. In fact, pound for pound, dollar for dollar, this could very well be the single-best timepiece in my admittedly modest collection.

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