Ant Colony by Michael DeForge

Title: Ant Colony

Author: Michael DeForge

Context: Ant Colony is a full-length debut graphic novel published in 2014 by the Toronto cartoonist, Michael DeForge. It presents a clutch of misfit ants, making an effort to maintain some similarity or resemblance of civilization in the shadow of war. The Michael is a dazzling newcomer in the world of creating graphic novels with an idiosyncratic, singular style.

Synopsis: Ant Colony, right from its opening pages of engages the reader in a darkly existential world filled with corrupt police officers, unfair wars and false prophets while following the inhabitant ants of an ant colony being attacked by red ants, close by. The graphic novel on the surface is actually about destruction of civilization, the war between ants in the Ant colony and red ants and their desire to rebuild their civilization again. However, underneath though, the novel tests and measures the deepest concerns of humans, namely apathy, loneliness, apathy, love and more. The author presents all this with greatest sensitivity and humour in the process of exposing a world in which unimaginable havoc can be created with just a single gnash of their jaws, by the spiders.

Ant Colony brings about the strikingly dramatic colour choices, stark lines, visual sensibility and excellent use of page and panel space in the book. Insect characters, very loosely anthropomorphized tie the book to a folklore which is as old as the art form itself. The funny-animal comic with its baroque and bizarre character designs truly updates the genre with the queen ant being the labyrinth of sex, spiders as snarling dog heads with daddy-longlegs feet sticking out of them and ants having visible internal organs. The graphic novel presents his talent for Cronenbergian body horror for sure. Internal and external threats tear apart the title colony, with the author exploring ways in which society and biology lock people into routines which makes escaping almost impossible.

Other works by the author:

2015 – First Year Healthy

2016 – Big Kids

2017 – Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero

2018 – Brat

2019 – Leaving Richard’s Valley