Graphic Novel Review: Bad Gateway

Bad Gateway by Simon Hanselmann. Fantagraphic, 2019. 9781683962076. 176pp including a number of beautiful paintings of Meg that capture Hanselmann’s love for her, and an uncolored, two-page summary to catch you up on the story of Meg (a green witch), Mogg (her boyfriend, a cat), and Owl (their “friend” and now former roommate).

The rent is due, and without Owl around Meg and Mogg and Werewolf Jones are in trouble because they’ve spent all their money to get high. Mogg gets a job at a cat cafe. Werewolf Jones pitches a plan that involves hiding in a fake arcade cabinet and getting a hand job. Meg heads for the welfare office where she puts on a spectacular “presentation” about why she needs benefits. All that is over by page 48, and if you haven’t laughed out loud by then you should probably close the book. I could fill this pitch with grim details, but it wouldn’t do the book justice. Did I mention drugs? There are lots of them. Everyone needs a bath and makes horrid decisions. It’s somehow funny as hell, and every volume leaves me rooting for Meg.

This is the fourth volume Fantagraphics has published since 2014, though there are lots of mini comics and smaller books. They’ve been translated around the world, and a recent exhibit at the Bellevue Arts Museum (across Lake Washington from Seattle) reminded me of how many minis my collection lacks, and that the world is full of lovely non-English editions, too. The exhibit was surreal for two other reasons: 1) there were recreations of scenes from the comics, including a diorama of life-sized characters watching Friends and Frasier on the living room couch; and 2) an older library patron who didn’t recognize me was a docent, and explained the books to me in detail. (I kept waiting for her to say, “The witch fucks the cat!” but that only happened in my mind, though she did tell me about the drugs and Werewolf Jones, and she seemed quite taken with a photo of Hanselmann as a kid.) I’m including photos from the exhibit, along with a few pages of art. I didn’t take any photos of the original art from this book, all of which were displayed on the walls. They were beautiful, but photos weren’t allowed, and it felt disrespectful to sneak one.



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