Sporgo No. 1
Laura Pallmall is a relatively new comic creator, with only a couple years of zine-making under her belt. Like many artists working in the punk scene, she started out by illustrating album covers, posters and t-shirts. “My drawings would go on flyers and band merch and then just kind of get swallowed up by the band [or] show’s identity,” explained Pallmall. “I wanted to give the drawings more of a life of their own by presenting them in zines with words I wrote or chose.”
Sporgo, Pallmall’s new comic anthology series, gives her the space to begin telling stories with fewer limitations. The strange title disconnects Pallmall from her punk roots, and the two stories that Sporgo: No. 1 contains stand well on their own. These stories, titled “Picaresque” and “From Eden Hill,” have a rawness to them that will remind you why self-publishing, with its lack of gatekeeping editors, is a treasure trove.
The first story in the anthology follows a nameless protagonist through a fairly mundane day. He hangs out with his friend, drinks a beer, and tries to cook some food. However, as the day progresses, the more depressing aspects of his life seem to permeate his every action. Perhaps it was because of the unsettling dream sequence that started the comic, but I felt like the protagonist’s hopelessness had a supernatural tint. He is deeply, truly doomed.
Of the two stories, the art in “Picaresque” is weaker, and I found the transition from the protagonist’s dream back to the waking world a bit confusing. However, Pallmall gives the protagonist some great, dead-eyed, bleak facial expressions, and draws some wonderful, grotesque visuals that I won’t spoil. If you like graphic horror, there are some fun Easter eggs awaiting you.
From Eden Hill
“From Eden Hill” is a delightfully disturbing ghost story. The protagonist sees a woman named Aidy Leem in a strange dream, and later discovers that Aidy is buried at a cemetery very close to her home. She and her boyfriend set out find Aidy’s grave, and their brief quest yields some unnerving results.
The story maintains a mundane strangeness throughout; while something unnatural is happening, the couple never quite seems to be in danger. Pallmall communicates this strangeness through visuals that are just slightly off, such as an almost-human pile of hair at the edge of the protagonist’s bed and a close-up of her mouth, missing a tooth. Later, when the couple encounters cemetery staff cutting grass, a close-up of the weed-whacker mimics that same, eerie feeling of being close to something that necessitates distance.
When you close the back cover of Sporgo: Issue 1, you will feel pleasantly disturbed. I highly recommend that you pick up this zine ASAP, because Pallmall is a talented horror writer with a bright (or perhaps eerily dark?) future. You can buy a copy at her online store, and follow her work at her website and her blog, Nothing Left to Learn.