The Cosmic Cosmology Of Need : Corinne Halbert’s “Acid Nun” #2

Corinne Halbert’s work is the sort of stuff that lends itself well to deep and thoughtful metatextual analyses that will or would, I’m fully confident, place it firmly within the now-chic, if ill-defined, body of “sex positive” art, embodying as it does an ethos that not only responds to, but frankly obliterates, such contemporary (and, really, timeless) villains like patriarchy, kink-shaming, modesty, repression, and other shit most people of discernment are bored with. Throw in some noble pro-drug — specifically pro-psychedelic — sentiments, and there’s really no doubt about it : Halbert follows in the rich tradition of those who both preach and practice William Blake’s famous axiom “the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.”

And so it is that I truly hope a dedicated, skilled, and analytical writer will take it upon themselves to situate Halbert’s entire ouevre within a much broader continuum of like-minded aesthetic statements, because it frankly it deserves as much. Ya know what, though? It ain’t gonna be me. Not necessarily because I’m too lazy — although there is that — but because I think such a treatise, necessary as it may be, would actually sell her art short.

Consider her latest self-published mini, Acid Nun #2 — sure, it plays around in the same sandbox as the first issue, which I reviewed in rather glowing terms on this very site, but despite little by way of what would traditionally be termed “plot progression” (Elinore and Baphomet enlist the services of a tarot card reader to help divine the whereabouts of Annie, our ostensible heroine), the breadth and depth of Halbert’s thematic and philosophical explorations nevertheless multiply themselves exponentially here, the comic’s “Forgive Urself” title page not just marrying a shop-worn piece of pop-psychology advice with one of the artist’s trademark arresting images, but in fact serving as the raison d’etre of the project (or at least this installment of it) in a more universal sense. Which brings me back to Blake —

At the risk of sounding pretentious as shit (okay, fair enough, too late), it’s my firm contention that Halbert is a latter-day “ecstatic visionary” herself, and one who shares many of Blake’s obsessions vis a vis the cosmic and eternal, although no one would argue that her methodology of exploring them — and subsequently expressing the essential character of those explorations — is anything other than entirely her own. Now watch and learn at home, kids, because segues get no clumsier than this —

Suicide hangs over this book like a fucking Sword of Damocles. Not just concretely, either — we’re talking conceptually, fundamentally, ethereally. It’s baked into the metaphorical DNA of the entire thing. Halbert takes great pains — emphasis, probably, on the pain — to explain why this is in a text piece that sure as shit can’t have been easy to write, but be forewarned that it’s also not the easiest thing to read, either. Still, the broader subject of self-harm is in no way incongruous with other themes present in this comic (hell, in all of Halbert’s comics) — I mean, sure, the sex and the chemically-induced altered states of consciousness she depicts are vibrant, colorful, phantasmagoric, and yes, ecstatic, but who are we kidding? That doesn’t always mean they’re fun.

Any key to self-discovery can, with just a slight twist the other way, be a key to self-destruction, and in this comic in particular Halbert treads that very fine line with care, precision, and even a certain amount of compassion. So often things can go in either direction when we’re talking about acts of intimate expression, and there’s a real need at the beating heart of this work to, if you’ll forgive the cliche, “leave it all out there on the page” — a need that makes for a reading experience that’s as harrowing, difficult, and challenging as it is ultimately rewarding. I’d be committing critical malpractice not to mention the terrific pin-up art contributions of Alex Graham, Hyena Hell, and Matthew Allison to the overall tone and tenor of these proceedings, but in the end this is Halbert’s show all the way, and everything she has in her is coming out. Tyger, tyger, you’re burning bright.

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Acid Nun #2 is available for $10.00 from Corinne Halbert’s Bigcartel site at https://corinnehalbert.bigcartel.com/product/acid-nun-no-2

Also, 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 world of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. Subscribing is the best way to support my continuing work, so I’d be very appreciative if you’d take a moment to give it a loo by directing your kind attention to https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

2 thoughts on “The Cosmic Cosmology Of Need : Corinne Halbert’s “Acid Nun” #2

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