SUTRA: Songs from the World of Om.
Created by Andy Barron.
The Story - The creatures of the World of Om return and navigate the landscape that in many ways mirrors our own. This is a world of beauty and savagery. It reveals much about these characters and in turn our own lives. Trajectories of narrative that can be fruitless and also life affirming. A visual song.
The Review - The artist, Andy Barron, takes another step forward in twisting my mental state with this new volume of his series Om. He takes another experimental step forward by introducing real world items into his comics. Whilst the previous incarnations and stories of this universe were totally drawn and coloured in this episode at certain moments he uses real life textures and environments. It makes you feel like these creatures are living in a place that is just outside of what you can see. Turn your head quickly and you might catch something disappearing behind the washing machine or garden shed.
Barron has become known somewhat for his imaginative use of dioramas on his convention tables. Small little puppet theatres that featured the creatures from Om. He swings the camera around thematically once more and makes use at a couple of moments in this story of these dioramas. This switches and changes views and meanings in ways I will let you explore yourself.
The comic has numerous knowing winks, moments of meta comparisons and mischievous parody. It opens with a wry grin as the character is portrayed like a certain Christmas Messiah and who then moves through time to become a middle eastern monarch. Barron’s characters traverse alien and often barren landscapes. But as they do they discover secrets of life and nature. Themes are gently poked in the readers ribs and we watch birth, death and rebirth through the pulsating and glowing alien nature that is shown so brilliantly in every panel. All moments are without any speech. One of my favourite sequences lampoons both religion and politics as a mob decides that due to the scratchings on a number of Hestonesque stone tablets that one character must be executed. As the crowd gathers they morph into a single entity with numerous cold white and angry eyes.
I could literally stare at the pages of this comic all day. This is a book that in some ways artistically reminds me of the movie Wizards by Ralph Bakshi and company. Not in any specific images or characters but more in this comic’s adult animation style conjoined with a strange and imaginative eye to transgressive movement and amorphous action and sexuality. It is erotic and brutal and emotional in ways you would never expect. It has sprung from the creative designs of Barron and never ceases to surprise and raise interest. The evolution of the series into a much bigger format suits the art excellently.
But there is more. There are hidden implications. The comic shows us in basic levels many of the mistakes being made with religion and social issues. (I’m going to take a guess and say that vegetarianism appears as a theme in one chapter.....?)
It is in every single panel this is a mind bending experience. A strip out of time but produced with modern technology, colours and print quality. This should be a big hit. Tell your friends.
This is getting a release on Sunday the 24th of June 2018 at the East London Comics Art Festival (ELCAF). For details of this event head to www.elcaf.co.uk
This is a big contender for my personal book of the year. Recommended without reservation.
You can find more about this series and other work by Andy Barron at www.andyillustrates.com or follow his work on Twitter @omcomics.
Many thanks for reading.