My first introduction to VirusComix.com was via a friend who sent me a one-shot issue of Subnormality. It was a densely packed comic where a space marine is retelling the sci-fi horror he had just experienced to a prostitute at a large commercial chain brothel on Christmas Eve. The story is simultaneously a parable about human resource consumption and territorial expansion and an examination of the little details that make up the human emotional experience through the lens of a brothel conversation. Needless to say, I was hooked.
When I got to the strip that told the story of an atomic cowgirl named Shango and her nuclear physicist mule dealing with gender stereotypes in the Old West… well, whatever’s a step up from hooked, I was that.
The one-shots by creator Winston Rowntree remain fantastic and, as the years go on, they start to become more issues than strips, eventually telling multiple simultaneous narratives happening in the same place to different people. As the individual one-shot comics got longer and more wordy over the years, they started to introduce recurring characters and themes. The current issue is a massive narrative about the lives of several people in a city. We see, for example, the experience of the writer and her friend and the experience of the people moving furniture outside the window or the experience of the band backstage after the concert they’re at. The way the details of these peoples’ lives are presented, often requiring the reader to track multiple independent narratives happening simultaneously in the same place, is an amazing experience. It almost feels fractal in nature; the minute details of how individuals relate to each other forms a sort of meta narrative about humanity itself.