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‘Chronophage’ (review)

Written by Tim Seeley
Art by Ilias Kyriazis
Published by Humanoids

 

I’ve never dropped acid but I’m fairly sure that reading Chronophage, the new graphic novel by Tim Seeley and Ilias Kyriazis, approximates the experience. It’s heavy, revelatory, philosophical, and overall trippy. The book’s muted colors, no one’s idea of psychedelia there, somehow work to keep the story grounded at least near reality.

On one level, Chronophage is a well-written story of a black single mother, her teenage daughter, her dreams—good and bad—and the new man in her life. On another level, Chronophage is about a particularly unusual type of monster and a woman whose love and sacrifice manage to defeat it. On yet another level, it’s a rather deep rumination on the choices we all make, and the consequences of those choices that make us who we are. And finally, at times, the story can be seen as a bit of conjecture on quantum physics.

We’ve all seen artists trip over themselves in comics in their efforts to draw monsters more outrageous than any ever seen before. Over the decades, there have been so many genuinely creepy monsters from the likes of Bernie Wrightson, Kelley Jones, Stephen Bissette, and others that one becomes numb to them. Then someone like Kyriazis comes along with one like the monster in Chronophage and you feel as excited as you did in your youth. But then you remember what that monster does to survive and you’re creeped out even more by your own feelings!

Not to give away too much but our heroine, Chloe, meets and quickly falls into a NSFW sexual relationship with a man who isn’t exactly what he appears to be. That said, he does seem to be exactly what Chloe needs at this time in her life, dealing with issues both with her own mother, and her own daughter. But then strange things start happening.

Seeley’s story keeps the reader riveted but it is—purposely, I believe—a tad tricky to keep up with at times. And “times” is the operative word as far as this book goes, with its flashbacks, flash-forwards, and alternate timelines, all leading to a sad but satisfying ending.

Chronophage is not a book to be entered into lightly. It has expectations of its readers. It’s also quite explicit and thus isn’t for everyone. In the end, though, it’s a worthwhile trip. A trippy trip, even, with some startling visuals, an almost-sympathetic antagonist, and a take-no-nonsense heroine.

Booksteve recommends.

 

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