Harvey Meets Troma In Robb Mirsky’s “Sludgy”

Oozing forth from the irradiated slime with a wave and a smile, Toronto cartoonist Robb Mirsky’s latest creation is equal parts Casper The Friendly Ghost and The Toxic Avenger, and in the self-published pages of the new mini Sludgy we meet him/it/them in all his/its/their gooey glory, the character’s very existence (on paper, that is) offering a disconcertingly chipper commentary on environmental destruction and the lifelong quest for acceptance on the part of the outcast or those “othered.” Plus, of course, some laughs. Who couldn’t use a few of those?

At heart, Mirsky is a humorist, and his classically-influenced — to say nothing of fundamentally strong and aesthetically professional — cartooning represents a kind of casual apex of thematically-apropos illustration, first setting the proper tone and then carrying it all the way through to the end. He touches on some fairly serious subjects, sure — in fact, his very premise here is born of one of the most important ones of our time — but he isn’t out to force you to do a whole ton of thinking, coming as he does from the always-noble “ya know, comics should be fun” artistic tradition. And in many ways. tradition is what this gorgeously-produced little book (slick, glossy paper sandwiched between heavy cardstock covers) is all about, albeit tradition with a healthy dose of contemporary relevance baked right into its metaphorical DNA.

Which rather begs the question — is Sludgy him/itself comprised of DNA like the rest of us? It’s tough to say given he/it was just “born,” as it were, from the toxic goop dumped in a now-irradiated swamp, but I guess it doesn’t matter : he just wants to entertain you., and maybe find some friends to play with. Which is where the “hijinks ensue” portion of the story kicks in — that is to say, right out of the gate, and yes, that’s me “spoiling” the entire plot in a nutshell, not that you’d have any reason to assume otherwise would transpire given the cover — and Mirsky takes it upon himself to get really literal with the old adage, “if you don’t have any friends, then make some.”

Yup, Sludgy can’t really be “killed” per se, given that he/it is not exactly “alive” (even if he/it is, paradoxically, sentient), but he/it can reproduce, and doesn’t even need to go through the sometimes-regrettable effort of fucking in order to do so. In true starfish fashion, one portion of Sludgy’s loosely-held-together form begets another complete creature when pressed into service to do so — and if not so pressed? Well, more’ll just pop up outta the swamp. And then more still. And then — well, you get the idea. Or you damn well should, at any rate.

Look, just go with the slimy flow here, okay? I promise it’s all you need to do, and I promise just as certainly that you won’t regret it. Mirsky has chosen the perfect split pea soup color to drench everything in, his sense of comic timing is spot on, and his panels are rendered with absolutely incredible skill. A comic doesn’t need to tax your brain to be good, and after a year like we’ve all just had, any sort of break from the ceaseless parade of doom and gloom is a welcome one, especially if it doesn’t insult your intelligence or pander to lowest-common-denominator sensibilities in order to entertain. Okefenokee has become Chernobyl, so just laugh about it along with the rest of us.

Oh, and the whole thing is really kinda fucking creepy, too. And most people with any sense enjoy a bit of “kinda fucking creepy,” don’t they? Anyway, this comic is an admittedly modest achievement, but a thorough and complete one nonetheless, positively nailing the task it set for itself, which is my way of attempting to say : I had a damn good time with it, and that’s precisely what it was designed to provide.

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Sludgy is available for $6.00 from Robb Mirsky’s My Moving Parts website at https://mymovingparts.com/collections/comics/products/sludgy-comic

Review wrist check – Raven “Solitude” gray dial model riding a Crown & Buckle cypress-colored strap from their “Premium NATO” series.