Dear Ghost Factory. What should I read?
By: Rob Neil Gruszecki
What if you are only an amalgamation of the lies you tell yourself in an attempt to shape the life you lead? What if you are only a façade interacting with those surrounding you? Perhaps you are a collection of falsities and ambiguities perpetuated by the combined efforts of your own will and that of others. Maybe we are also all responsible for the creation of something tangible and multi faceted whether acknowledged or not. Birthed out of traits emanating from you and your peers we could build a fully formed tangible being, complete with identity, past, personality, thoughts and desires. What we can imagine however if based on the intentions and subconscious of ourselves has a very clearly defined reality if all the former statements hold true. The product remains predicated on a lie. A hoax stands amongst us, sentient and biped. We have made a fake.
In Faker the Vertigo six-issue mini-series by writer Mike Carey and artist Jock a deconstruction of the crisis of identity every one of us has come to know throughout our time on Earth is conveyed with the aid of top-secret military experimentation, paranormal observation, disturbing hallucinatory occurrences as well as standard acts of violence, jealousy, blackmail and good old young adult substance abuse. Angel’s Kiss, an early military effort to revolutionize long-term data storage and effectively disorient enemy combatants is concocted in laboratories with willing university students as test subjects and contributors. Its design based on human memory deposits put into liquid form becomes the catalyst for this story involving 5 friends and a mistaken ingestion of the substance during a celebration with horrific results. What is molded from the secrets and falsehoods of Jessica, Yvonne, Mikey, Sack is called Nick and although the five friends know Nick well they eventually find that they are the only people that do. What follows after this revelation is a heavily science-fiction driven plot with many more surprises along the way regarding Angel’s Kiss, the truth behind Nick’s existence and the lies the four main characters tell themselves in order to keep going.
Known for many other Vertigo works such as The Unwritten, Hellblazer, God Save the Queen, Lucifer and Crossing Midnight as well as work at Marvel on Xmen, Mike Carey has a long and impressive resume. His work extends even into long fiction in his Felix Castor novels and that only names a few of the projects with his name attached. One thing I feel perfectly safe saying is that what remains constant in all of his endeavors is quality. When you pick up any fiction in any medium whether it be comics, novels, screenplays etc, you can be sure that if Mike Carey is responsible you will be receiving clever, original, shocking, exciting, and at times beautifully poetic material as his prose skill is miles above most and remains one of the most refreshing and adept voices in modern fiction. The fully realized environment already envisioned as you are thrown into the story is immense and you will be immediately attached to all characters within the panels. For example, Jessica, a promiscuous college girl prone to set particular faculty members up for blackmail will have you both astounded at the level of manipulation she’s responsible for and rooting for the believable circumstances Carey writes. Sack, a troubled and depressed member of the group has your fragile emotions hanging in the balance of his actions due to the strengths of the writing.
Accompanying the complex and surreal text is very excellent art from Jock of the Losers, Batman: The Black Mirror and Scalped fame. Jock’s style if you are not familiar with it is a rigid and jagged art form that brings his characters to life in a very alternate fashion but invites such an interesting take on the storytelling. With such sharp edges the facial features of people look manic with emphatic expressions and gritty, evocative gestures, Jock builds an environment to be completely taken by and you won’t want to leave. Particular panels like certain Angel’s Kiss inspired dreamscapes haunt and surprise you by placing the hideously bizarre in the same frame with the banal. These examples place Jock among such visually gifted ranks as the likes of David Lynch in my mind. Truly inspired and interesting styles keep jock at the heights of genius creator with a delivery manner unlike any other.
The minds of a dream creative team collaborate to bring to life an entity that you’ll find will creep in your memory for a long time to come; One that’s infectious ending will make your skin crawl, jaw drop and your mind swirl. The untrue will be exposed and in some cases literally brought about to defend itself. The fabrications we build up around ourselves will be questioned as will the state of your own identity. Be prepared. But If you find it all to overwhelming… Fake it