What Did I Learn?
Before I had a chance to read it for myself, I had read a number of other reviews of The Deformitory by Sophia Wiedeman. Virtually all of them talk about the deep themes that they found in the comic, which intrigued me because they all talk about slightly different themes. Ms. Weideman was nice enough to send a review packet containing the solidly constructed book and some other little goodies.
When I first saw the cover, the theme that presented itself to me was about being a misfit. For me, that ties the book’s stories together nicely. The unicorn watcher saw something amazing, it consumed his life and he spent it alone. Dolores has a crippling condition (and eventually deadly) which she has to face all alone – which she’d prefer not to be at all. Both the Heart Monster and the mermaid are on the outside because of their outward appearance. The Slug gets that same treatment from her friends and also Dolores, of all people.
I don’t spoil, so I can’t really talk about the ending in specifics. We can talk about how the last third of The Deformitory is where the characters deal with being misfits. Some suffer on, some take action and for some the story continues. I’m sorry that is all so vague – let me give an example: On the last page, there is yet a gulf to be crossed. It could be easy or even assumed that this is the next step but the facial expression shows worry or indecisiveness to me. Will they really cross that span?
Some might also wonder about the Heart Monster, like I did on my initial reads. He shows up in one story and then is featured in his own but didn’t have enough story presence to explain why he was introduced. Well, my friends, he provides a little mental rest in the reading but is also a very elegant and masterful inclusion which serves to help brand Sophia’s work. On the back cover, you may note that The Deformitory is published under Heart Monster Press – so this is a bit of internal cross promotion that we can all learn from. Heart Monster is a very visual and creative name that is not limited in subject matter. It also allows Sophia the option to work in something fun and personal into any project she takes on, like the Heart Monster Tangent.
There is also a kissing scene in the background of the Slug’s story which I’m sure has meaning. I’m not sure if it’s a comment on people desiring overly thin supermodels or the surprising places that love can take you. Or something else entirely, perhaps. I found the misfit theme to carry the bulk of the stories but to some extent The Deformitory is written in such a way as to let you find your own further meaning. It reminds me of how they say a good portrait has eyes that seem to be looking at you no matter what angle you view the portrait from.
What Did I Learn?
This is a work with more depth than many other comics you may read and will appeal to readers who may not read comics very often. While some may say that comics are just for casual entertainment, I think it’s important to recognize that the most popular and enduring comics all have that deeper element. Calvin & Hobbes are not only named after philosophers but their actions often had deeper aspects. Peanuts has a deeper side which most don’t think about except when the holiday cartoons are playing. It also seems to be important not to overplay the deeper things but it may be a requirement for enduring work. You can get your copy of The Deformitory from Sophia Draws.com or eventually at your local comic shop – it’s in this month’s Diamond Previews.