Tripwire’s contributing writer Tim Hayes takes a look at Heavy Metal’s Bioripple, created by writer-artist Nir Levie…
Writer/ artist: Nir Levie
Bioripple tells its tale through page design just as much as by words and characters. Writer/artist Nir Levie’s commitment to the implications of his own narrative is the strongest aspect of the book even without knowing that Levie is an architect as well as a comics creator; but once you do know it, the sense of a graphic novel built around one individual’s vision for a world is all the stronger. And vision is the heart of the matter, since Levie’s comic is largely told from the first-person perspective of two different characters, their subjective viewpoints sharing each page while running in roughly parallel horizontal tiers and occasionally swapping position, with two distinct colour palettes keeping the twin-track story ordered.
The story itself adds some further ambitious complexity, a near-future science-fiction parable with a plot that emerges at leisure from the deliberate tangle of interwoven stories. Computerised automated systems now do most of the work in this society, with human beings able to learn skilled trades but then only teach them rather than practice them. A chatty global AI named Geodesics guides everyone’s individual lives and makes ominously soothing noises about the dangers of anxiety, a seemingly benevolent Big Brother against which a rebellion might be brewing. And Levie adds a lot more plot, about urban identity and the transfer of human consciousness from place to place and ghosts in the machine, as the stories of architecture teacher Tim and law enforcement lecturer Emily mingle and merge.
Levie’s art is fluid and flexible, right-angles a rare thing as fisheye and barrel lens distortions combine all the claustrophobia of subjective viewpoints with the occasional feeling of VR footage. The tails of speech balloons snake like ribbons in a breeze, faces with severe concave profiles loom and recede, and double-page spreads pop up to jolt the pattern. Everyone seems to be in a rubber-walled prison, as indeed they are. Levie has name-checked David Cronenberg and David Lynch as story influences with Black Hole and Transmetropolitan informing the comic storytelling, but a lot of Bioripple seems idiosyncratic and singular enough to be taking these themes in a direction that doesn’t require direct influence from anybody. Flexible forms and soft changing bodies are potent signposts for free thought and liberty in whatever art they appear, filling up panels here as another facet of the struggles Levie is talking about beyond anything the characters might say.
Bioripple is out now from Heavy Metal
Creating Ripples Tripwire’s contributing writer Tim Hayes takes a look at Heavy Metal’s Bioripple, created by writer-artist Nir Levie… Bioripple Writer/ artist: Nir Levie Heavy Metal Bioripple tells its tale through page design just as much as by words and characters. Writer/artist Nir Levie’s commitment to the implications of his own narrative is the strongest
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