Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Webcomics shoutout: The Last Romantic Anti-hero

Billy Dogma: The Last Romantic Anti-Hero
By Dean Haspiel
Published online at Trip City



I never feel like I fully understand any of Dean Haspiel's "Billy Dogma" comics, but I certainly find them fascinating. They seem to be written straight from the subconscious, allowing Haspiel to pour his emotions straight onto the page (screen?), examining modern life through the lens of a bombastic action comic filled with honest, completely non-self-conscious romantic feeling. This installment sees the hero and his girlfriend, Jane Legit, trapped in a post-apocalyptic wasteland apparently caused by the narcissism of a society obsessed with "social" technology, deciding to fix things through the power of their explosive lovemaking. I think. It can be hard to tell, what with all the goofy symbolism and over-the-top weirdness (there's something about destructive satellites labeled with the word "AMGOD", which seems to be both a comment on man's self-centeredness, or maybe just "Dogma" backwards), but the centerpiece of this story is a trip through Billy and Jane's romantic history, which is where the series usually shines. The larger-than-life style Haspiel uses here takes the ups and downs of a love affair and gives it seismic, world-shaking importance to externalize the feelings of the participants.



It's lovely work, the kind of comic that invites immersion and interpretation, lingering in the subconscious and grabbing hold of universal emotions to add resonance to conflicts shared among all of humanity. This seems like the most personal work of Haspiel's career, but that relatability is what makes it so great.