Puke Force is described as a view of a café being bombed, dissected from the angle of each person’s life who was present at the time, moving back and forth between before and after the event. But the 120-page book is much more than that. The universe expands outward to encompass all of author Brian Chippendale’s security conscience, the sci-fi urban-nightmare setting of Grave City. His ranging focus criticizes lefitst ideology, dependence on security and violence as solutions to complex problems and a random assortment of technological nightmares. His feature characters are a collection of superheroes who can do little but observe or be absorbed by the world around them.
Puke Force‘s illustrations are where the power of Chippendale’s work lies. The frenetic assembly of wild thoughts, intricate, heavy lines and dreamy landscapes are what stick with the reader. Single pages build and loop back to former characters and pages. Whole pages are dedicated to mapping out land and cityscapes. Trippy “Where’s Waldo-esque” imagery outlines whole worlds as diverse as an underground bar fight, a land of whirling knives and an area of fantastical memory mist. Whole hours could be dedicated to dissecting the intricacies of each page without fully seeing each detail.
It’s not surprising to learn Chippendale is a noise musician.
The frenetic nature of the storytelling makes it difficult to hold a sense of time and place. And the full force of the story is a bit lost in the chaotic but fantastic assembly of images. Chippendale has to have discovered one of the most dynamic ways to tell a story. At times tripping over each other to get across the page, characters include a man-sized M&M, a student basement dweller, a terrorist bachelor escaping responsibility and that annoyingly useless leftist ideological man. It’s a range of characters that can only come from the acceptance that life is random, and the only way it fits together is in all of its chaos.
Puke Force was written over a period of six years. Trying to absorb it may take just as much time.
By Brian Chippendale
Drawn and Quarterly, 120 pp, $27.95