Flinch

by more than a dozen authors, including Shaun Tan
Gestalt Publishing (Australia)
ISBN: 9780977562831

This book is a collection of comic short stories, varying in length from single page/panels to nearly forty pages. The theme is dark/unsettling/creepy, and most of the stories deliver on that, in various shades of gray or simply stark black and white. There’s a bit of everything weird in this collection: prison story, underwater, outer space, ghosts, religious freakiness.

The subtle ones are my favorites — ok, fine, Shaun Tan’s works are my favorites. Shaun Tan is the reason I wanted this book; I’m a fan, and he doesn’t disappoint. The cover, with its two figures down near a surburban fence — are they hiding? cowering? expectant? — with a giant red rabbit’s eye peering over the fence in their direction is definitely unsettling. So too are Tan’s moral lessons (#32: Innocence; #7: Regret; #12: Knowledge). I also liked Mel Tregonning’s “Night” with its uncertain lifeforms growing in the dark, behind a child’s back.

It’s the weirdness that lurks in the every day, in the room that looks like yours, in a neighborhood you can recognize, that is the most disturbing.

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