Very Casual is a collection of short stories and illustrations by DeForge culled from minis and work he has been doing for a while. It is unmistakably weird and fascinating. Stories about a fake species of terrestrial slug that looks like a deer and about people that litter as a hobby are fun to read in their own right, but to my eyes, they appear to be thinly veiled allegory discussing the act of illustration and being a cartoonist. DeForge’s self-insertion is telling, but it’s something I like about the work. One of the shorter color pieces, the short story “Queen” takes a sidelong glance at the consequences of attempting to be beautiful. The art is lumpy, asymmetric, sometimes graphic; it draws you in when you don’t feel like you should be drawn.
None of this is truly transcendent, but it’s neat, and the illustration is top grade. One of the interesting things I see in Very Casual is humanity reflected back at the reader in a distorted mirror. We see the spongy, fleshy creations of DeForge. To some they are unsettling. To others they are beautiful. I think that resonates with the way we see other humans. We see the evil and the magnificent at the same time.We are repulsed and attracted.
You can find more of Michael DeForge’s work at his tumblr, King Trash. His first full length graphic novel, Ant Colony, will be published in hardcover by Drawn & Quarterly later this month. I’m looking forward to it.