The Often Wrong: Volume 1 TP is published by Image Comics. Farel Dalrymple is responsible for the scripts, inks and colors. Additionally, Pretty Deadly, a three-page comic, was written by Jason Sacher and illustrated by Dalrymple and is part of this collection.
The Often Wrong collects hundreds of sketches, numerous storyboards, and several comics as well. This review will focus primarily on the comics.
“Mac Nenditch” is a short, seemingly stream-of-consciousness comic that shows a young boy being savagely beaten. His disinterested mother watches and does nothing to help him. Despite the fairly straightforward and context-less presentation, this comic seems to hold greater meaning. What this meaning is could change from reader to reader, but it’s apparent profundity remains.
“Remainder: A Wrenchies Tale” serves as the final tale for the character Leking Snipes from Dalrymple’s series The Wrenchies. The comic follows Snipes as he traverses the post-apocalypse after having been transformed into Gun Bug Guy. Gun Bug Guy moves from place to place in a haze. Through this transformation, Snipes lost the bulk of his consciousness. As Gun Bug Guy travels he experiences hallucinations, some of which are hostile and others that are friendly.
“Sherwood Presley Breadcoat in His Thirties” is a continuation of a character’s story from Dalrymple’s series Proxima Centauri. This one-page comic focuses on how jaded and unhappy Sherwood has become with age. He acknowledges this while commenting on the current state of the world and society.
“Rugsby” is a postlude to It Will All Hurt that follows Blam Dabbit, Leon Fireglove, and Rugsby the Space Man. Leon and Blam see Rugsby flying down on his spaceship. They wave to him and Leon notices a snake, mistaking it for a big worm. Blam tells Leon how much he likes him which distracts Leon who is bit by the snake. Blam helps Leon who is frustrated at first before calming down.
“Slum” is a reimagining of the famous Winsor McCay character Little Nemo. Little Nemo falls asleep and once again finds himself in the dream world. At first, he is confused and seems lost as the dream world around him spins and changes. Soon, he gets the hang of it and seems to find both his bearings and inspiration for the waking world.
“Tree Secret Tree” is an introduction to the murderous cat named Schkronkie. It serves as a brief outline to show the young Schkronkie at play, as well as his handiwork of killing various birds. This comic is a prelude to the comic that follows, Quarter Moon. In Quarter Moon Schkronkie and his cat compatriots invade the secret treehouse of three girls. These girls, named Emily, Gwen, and Clementine, are disturbed when the cats barge in.
“Pretty Deadly”, written by Jason Sacher, is a sci-fi western. A young boy is bullied while he cuts up an apple to eat. During an argument with the bullies, we also see a lone gunman leading his horse to water. He is followed by several men with guns who attempt to sneak up on him while he drinks from a stream.
As someone who was unacquainted with Farel Dalrymple’s work before reading this, the comics caught me off guard. Between the confusing story beats and the abstract and psychedelic art there was a lot to take in. However, as I did my research and read up on some of Dalrymple’s old work I found myself charmed. He puts a lot of himself into all of his work and while his aesthetic is bizarre, it is also charming. The characters are innocent and worldly all at once, in addition to being seemingly unflappable. Unfortunately, it is difficult to glean much of that from the stories in this collection. With the strangeness of Dalrymple’s work, research was an absolute necessity. On my first read-through, I was completely confused.
Dalrymple’s artwork is beautiful when he wants it to be, and bizarre and grotesque when he doesn’t. Getting insight into his creative process is fascinating, though it is a little difficult to follow the pen scribbles. This is not to the detriment of the work, just a side-effect of the creative process not necessarily intended for us to see. The real stars of this book are his various sketches. Dozens of characters from pop-culture and comics are on display next to his own creations. In these places, the true talent of Dalrymple as an artist is in full effect.
The Often Wrong: Volume 1 TP was remarkably difficult to review. The substance of the comics is difficult to grasp, especially for someone lacking in the greater background knowledge of Dalrymple’s work. If you are a fan of any of Dalrymple’s series then this book is for you. For those who know very little of his work, I don’t know how well I can recommend this for you.
The Often Wrong: Volume 1 TP is available in comic stores everywhere right now
Rating: 3/5 Flies buzzing