A daily strip that was serialized on Instagram, to be collected by Drawn and Quarterly in 2019.
Richard is a benevolent but tough leader. He oversees everything that happens in the valley, and everyone loves him for it. When Lyle the Raccoon becomes sick, his friends—Omar the Spider, Neville the Dog, and Ellie Squirrel—take matters into their own hands, breaking Richard’s strict rules. Caroline Frog rats them out to Richard and they are immediately exiled from the only world they’ve ever known.
Michael DeForge’s Leaving Richard’s Valley expands from a bizarre hero’s quest into something more. As this ragtag group makes their way out of the valley, and then out of the park and into the big city, we see them coming to terms with different kinds of community: noise-rockers, gentrification protesters, squatters, and more. DeForge is idiosyncratically funny but also deeply insightful about community, cults of personality, and the condo-ization of cities. These eye-catching and sometimes absurd comics coalesce into a book that questions who our cities are for and how we make community in a capitalist society.
Upcoming graphic novel coming in Fall 2018 from Koyama Press.
Short, succinct and, more often than not, strange stories have always been a central part of the Michael DeForge’s oeuvre. In a career that’s volume outweighs its years, DeForge’s most powerful work has often been his most pithy.
Sticks Angelica is, in her own words, "49 years old. Former: Olympian, poet, scholar, sculptor, minister, activist, Governor General, entrepreneur, line cook, headmistress, Mountie, columnist, libertarian, cellist." After a high-profile family scandal, Sticks escapes to the woods to live in what would be relative isolation were it not for the many animals that surround and inevitably annoy her. Sticks is an arrogant self-obsessed force who wills herself on the flora and fauna. There is a rabbit named Oatmeal who harbors an unrequited love for her, a pair of kissing geese, a cross-dressing moose absurdly named Lisa Hanawalt. When a reporter named, ahem, Michael DeForge shows up to interview Sticks for his biography on her, she quickly slugs him and buries him up to his neck, immobilizing him. Instead, Sticks narrates her way through the forest, recalling formative incidents from her storied past in what becomes a strange sort of autobiography.
Deforge’s witty dialogue and deadpan narration create a bizarre yet eerily familiar world. Sticks Angelica plays with autobiography, biography, and hagiography to look at how we build our own sense of self and how others carry on the roles we create for them in our own personal dramas.
Self-published - 2016
64 page collection of sketchbook drawings. Risograph.
Big Kids is simultaneously Michael DeForge's most straightforward narrative and his most complex work to date. It follows a troubled teenage boy through the transformative years of high school as he redefines his friends, his interests, and his life path. When the boy's uncle, a police officer, gets kicked out of the family's basement apartment and transferred to the countryside, April moves in. She's a college student, mysterious and cool, and she quickly takes a shine to the boy.
The boy's own interests quickly fade away: he stops engaging in casual sex, taking drugs, and testing the limits of socially acceptable (and legal) behavior. Instead, he hangs out with April and her friends, a bunch of highly evolved big kids who spend their days at the campus swimming pool. And slowly, the boy begins to change, too.
Eerie and perfectly paced, DeForge's Big Kids muses on the complicated, and often contradictory, feelings people struggle with during adolescence, the choices we make to fit in, and the ways we survive times of change. Like Ant Colony and First Year Healthy, Big Kids is a testimony to the harshness and beauty of being alive.
Michael DeForge makes comics like no one else. This collection of the cartoonist’s mini-comics, zines, anthology work, and more, is a follow up to the award-winning Very Casual, and shows the artist at the height of his occasionally fever-induced powers.
First Year Healthy purports to be the story of a young woman, recently released from the hospital after an outburst, and her burgeoning relationship with an odd, perhaps criminal Turkish immigrant. In a scant forty-five pages, working with a vibrant, otherworldly palette of magentas, yellows, and grays, Michael DeForge brings to life a world whose shifting realities are as treacherous as the thin ice its narrator walks on. First Year Healthy is all it appears to be and more: a parable about mental illness, a folktale about magical cats, and a bizarre, compelling story about relationships.
From its opening pages, Ant Colony immerses the reader in a world that is darkly existential, with false prophets, unjust wars, and corrupt police officers, as it follows the denizens of a black ant colony under attack from the nearby red ants. On the surface, it’s the story of this war, the destruction of a civilization, and the ants’ all too familiar desire to rebuild. Underneath, though, Ant Colony plumbs the deepest human concerns—loneliness, faith, love, apathy, and more. All of this is done with humor and sensitivity, exposing a world where spiders can wreak unimaginable amounts of havoc with a single gnash of their jaws.