The Webcomic Overlook #227: It Will All Hurt
When I reviewed Ant Comic, I figured — perhaps prematurely — that I’d run across this entry’s “weird” nominee. Predecessors include Dash Shaw’s Bodyworld and Cameron Stewart’s Sin Titulo. You know, the ones that seemed like they were written after the creator huffed a ton of paint?
It turns out that I was partially right. While Ant Comic is, in fact, realy weird, I could at least figure out was was going on for the most part. The same can’t be said of all the Eisner nominees. For instance, I have a hard time making heads or tails of Farel Dalrymple’s It Will All Hurt.
It Will All Hurt is billed a “a weird, sad, silly, and sketchy, fantasy adventure strip with magic and science-fiction and some fighting action.” I found that maybe four of those words were true. I’ll stump for the “weird,” “sketchy,” and “strip.” The “science-fiction” part is pretty true, too, if you steer away from the “battlin’ robots” side of the scale and toward the “last 10 minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey” extreme. It Will All Hurt is probably better defined as a stream of consciousness comic.
Being here is like having this repeating dream that my house or a building I am in is about to explode or is on fire or something like that.
I’ve mentioned it before, but there’s an inherent weakness to dream logic. Ever had someone tell you what’s what’s happening in their dreams? Maybe retelling it is enlightening an relevant to the teller, but to the listener it eventually becomes confusing and boring. It’s just too unstructured to hold your attention for very long.
Alembra turns into a squirrel and launches her self into a pit where hairy, sasquatch-like creatures are gonna snack on a dead dude. She turns back into a human and scares them off. But… oh no! The dead body has weird tentacles growing out of its orifices like Wesker from the Resident Evil movies! So, with regret, Alembra burns the body up with a green flame.
Then we cut to outer space. We’re introduced to another character after an abrupt transition with a caption that reads “Meanwhile, somwhere above Alemdra’s head.” We’re introduced to an elven-looking fellow who is later given the imaginative moniker of “Alien Astronaut.” He’s surrounded by multi-colored bubbles, which seem to fill him with whimsy. Eventually, his round spaceship gets attacked by a bunch of shadowy gentlemen who seem to be led by Baron Samedi. Are these the same creatures that attacked Alembra? Alien Astronaut escapes by plunging through the planet’s atmosphere, which he seems to have survived. Later he meets up with people dressed up like the cast of Mad Max, and a magic bald guy makes him disappear because he sensed his loneliness. And so it goes.
Cut to… the planet again. We’re introduced to another kid who is later referred to as Blam Dabbit. Blam is a master at making music by blowing through an empty bottle. It makes an old homeless guy, who looks like Spider-Man villain the Vulture, shed tears of sorrow and regret. Blam can make butterflies out of pink goo, which is a pretty neat trick. But then he’s invariably attacked by dark shadow things. Later the Vulture guy approaches one of the hairy shadow creatures and he goes, “He has 72 days.”
I know, right?
Later, there’s a violent confrontation between furries, which is the climactic bout promised on the cover of Chapter One. If you were waiting for this moment to arrive, you’re going to have to stick around all the way to Chapter 3. One belligerent wears an extremely fetching piece of headgear that wouldn’t look out of place in ancient Hyboria; the other is styling a giant head like he was Brutus Buckeye. It ends with a furry getting burned in fire. (So many people getting burned in this comic!)
Then a robot that does absolutely robot things, like contemplate the meaning of life in front of an empty chair. And then we’re introduced to a sword wizard who lives in a Stone Henge. This sword wizard for some reason does not use his sword for combat. Instead, he uses magic to shoot a missile. I guess I should point out that this missile is not a magic missile. No, it’s the kind of missile that you’d normally see launching out of a Gundam.
Also the narrator is a cat. Named “Gato Gris.”
I don’t know either.
So you can kinda understand what I’m talking about when I say this is like someone trying to describe their dream to you. However, when we break this down to essential plot elements, I don’t think I’d be too amiss to basically call It Will All Hurt a really pretty zombie comic. Sure, there’s magic, and there’s kids trying to figure what’s going on, and there’s spaceships and pink goo…. But at it’s core, it’s a zombie comic. The rest of the stuff is just window dressing. It’s World War Z filtered through they eyes of an artsy indie film.
Dalrymple’s aesthetic style is the sort you’d find in moleskines all over the world. handdrawn and sketchy, plenty of crosshatches and colored by either marker or watercolor. The panel borders are uneven, and there’s negative space everywhere.
Although this comic has a very “artsy college project” feel about it, it is a bit of a welcome change from the incredibly polished look you typically find in most other webcomics. The nervous lines imbues It Will All Hurt with a sense of motion. During a campfire sequence, for example, the art suggests small flickers of light passing across the characters’ faces. Here’s the magical part of it: the flickers of light aren’t actually depicted in any way, shape, or form… the perception of such was all in my imagination.
Dalrymple’s style, incidentally, reads quite nicely cellphone. Each chapter is laid out in vertical format, and the text is large enough to be legible on a tiny screen (at least one equipped with Apple’s retina display; I’m not sure how this looks on other makes or models). Rereading It Will All Hurt on my iPhone for the sake of this review turned out to be a painless experience. So good on ya, Farel.
In the end, though, I really couldn’t warm up to It Will All Hurt. Is it being pretentious, being weird for weirdness’s sake, or is it wryly poking fun at pretension? Probably a little bit of column A, a little bit of column B. Bottom line, though, is that I didn’t find it much interesting. A webcomic like Rice Boy, for example, is quite relatable despite its weirdness. The readers are grounded by title character and his shared perspective of the world unfolding around him. With It Will All Hurt, all the main characters are alien and a tad inscrutable.
I think the esoteric atmosphere is meant to intentionally evoke a sense of alienation at both the magic and science fiction elements. Is it to introduce the reader to the sensation of viewing a futuristic culture that he or she cannot full understand? Perhaps. At the same time, though, it’s a little being that listener to someone telling you about their weird dream. At some point, you’re impatiently waiting for them to finish their confusing little story so you can get on with your life.
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)