Monologues for Calculating the Density of Black Holes by Anders Nilsen

Monologues for Calculating the Density of Black Holes
by Anders Nilsen
Fantagraphics Books, 2009

A chunky collection of minimalist minicomics by Nilsen, whose faceless characters opine in a void for pages at a time, like a less-focussed Meredith Harris. The stripped-down art style focuses attention on the wry monologues, like a series of rather good one-act plays, with occasional intrusions from a massive crinkle-edged robot, a scribble-headed Beelzebub and a plaid-shirted assistant who reads out criticism of the previous chapters, prompting Nilsen’s proxy to confess that the ending of the book will “just be a big mess, actually.”

Strangely enough, the least interesting section is the only one to break away from blank backgrounds, with maps and aerial photographs pasted behind the characters. There’s also a selection of floorplans, which demarcates locations such as “Everything”, “Nothing” and ‘Harvey Keitel”.

It’s 410 pages, which would be a career summit for a NZ cartoonist, but is the type of compilation Fantagraphics casually publishes every month. Readers may be put off by the crudeness of the drawings (hilariously, a character discovers the oval cellphone he’s been talking into for six pages is actually a hotdog bun), but that’s not the point, is it?

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