Two From Josh Simmons : “Micky”

We’ve all been there — you’re sitting on a plane, or a train, or a bus, and some nosy asshole plunks down next to you and starts asking all sorts of invasive questions, most likely because they’re both bored and boring. After all, when you haven’t got much of a life yourself, then you become unnaturally interested in the lives of others. But what if the person who started nosing around in your business had motivations beyond merely alleviating the tedium of their existence?

That’s the premise behind Josh Simmons’ latest self-published mini (well, okay, it’s only a “mini” in terms of length — as far as its physical format goes, it’s magazine-sized and offset-printed) Micky, an intense short story that plays to its artist’s strengths as the small press scene’s most accomplished purveyor of visceral horror. But the visceral only hits home as anything beyond a splatterfest if it manages to set the stage for bloodshed with some carefully-constructed psychological fucked-upness. And our titular Micky is one very fucked-up individual indeed.

Just how fucked up only becomes apparent in due course, but you get a strong feeling that something ain’t right with this guy from the outset, as he pesters a young couple with a series of increasingly uncomfortable questions, followed by a number of observations and statements that can most generously be described as “grossly and disgustingly inappropriate.” And then shit really goes off the rails.

Obviously, the claustrophobic confines of an airplane make for a good setting for a horror story (you wanna talk about “I’m not locked in here with you — no, you’re locked in here with me!!!!”), and Simmons paces this gut-punch of a short-form yarn expertly by spending roughly half of it on pure buildup, and the other half on deliriously OTT ultraviolence. It’s a thoroughly unpleasant and unsettling experience, and given that’s precisely what it’s supposed to be, well — props for a job well done, even if that job was quite obviously a tough one to stomach. Or am I assuming too much?

Who knows? And, furthermore, who cares? We’re here to discuss this comic’s effectiveness rather than speculate as to the mindset of its creator while he was making it, but I will say this much : it’s always plain as day when an author, artist, or both feels the impact of what they’re doing, and the calculated nature of Simmons’ plotting and his art’s attention to both detail and impact leads me to think that he probably spent more time in his character’s head than would generally be considered “healthy,” and that he spent at least that much time deciding how best to visually communicate the horrific mayhem he was preparing to unleash. There are no accidents here, no sense that the cartoonist is ever “winging it” — and the deliberate nature of the process that went into making this really pays off in the mark (hell, maybe that should be the stain) it leaves on a reader’s brain and conscience afterwards.

Obviously, then, given its profoundly disturbing nature, I can’t recommend this comic to everyone — but for folks like me who appreciate a truly unhinged reading experience, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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Micky is available in a package deal with Simmons’ other new mini, Ghouls (pictured above), by sending $10.00 via PayPal to joshuahallsimmons@yahoo.com.

Review wrist check – it really doesn’t get much better than this in the summertime : my Squale “1521” classic blue dial model riding a Zodiac NATO-style caoutchouc rubber field strap in burnt orange.