By: Marc Fiszman
Marc Fiszman’s Coffee is virtually impossible to synopsise. There’s a sentient, reality-hopping coffee mug called Nameless Entity #4, who turns out to be a nameless caffeine-addicted marketing guru who is led by a naked time traveller in a top hat called the IT Guy to believe that might be the Messiah… and more weirdness than you can shake a dusty VHS copy of Eraserhead at.
I may well be wrong about some of the above. Coffee takes us through a bizarre world of insane marketing, mind-expanding drugs, sexual cravings, sausage cars, geometric abstraction, hyperdimensional slavery… and, of course, coffee. On occasion, also fish. Just when it’s beginning to make some semblance of sense, Fiszman adds or removes another layer of reality from Coffee, and you’re left stranded once more, ever bewildered but never bored.
Since writing these regular reviews, my definition of what exactly constitutes a comic book – or graphic novel, for those plonkers who find the term “comic” demeaning – and distinguishes sequential art from an illustrated novel or picture book have been redefined time and again. Coffee isn’t quite like any graphic novel you’ll ever have seen before, yet it’s certainly not a picture book. The words and images do not simply complement one another but work in chorus. Marc Fiszman creates abstract imagery from simple geometric shapes, and when Coffee hits its stride, flicking through the book’s striking imagery via a Flash viewer gives the impression of a flipbook animation. It’s not only unique, but highly effective for this type of fiction, and only in the few instances where Coffee reverts to pure prose does the absurdity suddenly fall flat.
It perhaps goes without saying that Coffee isn’t for everyone. It’s definitely a demanding book, one that will require multiple rereads to fully appreciate. Fans of William S. Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson and Jeff Noon will love Fiszman’s disjointed narrative, inspired philosophies and sinister disembodied entities, while others will no doubt find it impenetrable and more than a bit pretentious. But then that’s the great thing about unbridled creativity; it’s always going to terrify the majority.
Coffee will be available from 20th August as a 385pp. print-on-demand paperback (£9.99) and DRM-free PDF eBook (£3.99), both available through Marc Fiszman’s site at marcfiszman.com.