I respect a creator’s ability to remain subtle and matter-of-fact with surreal elements while being able to keep a grip on characters, and Michel Fiffe’s recently concluded story Zegas” over on ACT-I-VATE demonstrated such talents. ACT-I-VATE has been a unique webcomics destination since it first launched on Livejournal, and I remain consistently surprised by what its talent roster comes up with.
“Zegas” is about a brother/sister relationship and the inner struggle of an aging single writer on his birthday. As with many surreal and magical realist works, the internal and external happenings blur. Fiffe’s color overlays and clean, inspired illustrations float smoothly with a little bit more than immediately meets eye to many of the comic’s panels. There are a few great examples here of singular panels that manage to convey time periods rather than points with live senses of motion.
The art comes across more powerfully than the story, but the emotions and struggles of Emily and Boston make the going worthwhile. And in the context of the confusing bleed between the real and surreal, the characters come across more discernibly than the material events do. The comic has an Alejandro Jodorowsky meets Dr. Seuss vibe in places, but as is the case in a number of Jodorowsky films I enjoy, that ambiguity of sensation and tangible occurrence can push other story elements into the foreground even as it blurs narrative coherence.