Webcomic Wednesday: Pim & Francie by Al Columbia

Despite their tangible handmade quality, the comics and art of Al Columbia feel less like work someone made and more like transmissions. Faded and aged, torn up and re-assembled, smudged and erased and even burned, the adventures of his two childlike characters Pim & Francie are related in deliberately decontexualized images — covers for comic books that don’t exist, panels from stories without beginnings or ends, sketches for pieces that were perhaps never intended to be finished. It’s as though the evil being depicted — being channeled, perhaps — corrupts the very stuff of the artwork itself, forcing Columbia to commit some of it to paper but preventing him from going any farther than he does for fear of drawing too much of it into being.

But it’s okay — as you can see in this selection of rare full-color Pim & Francie art from Hi-Fructose Magazine, he goes plenty far. A lot of what’s scary about Pim & Francie speaks for itself, Columbia’s facility with gore and rictus grins and the suggestion of much much worse things lurking around the corner and so on. But Pim & Francie as characters, as opposed to just classic-animation-style avatars, are emotionally compelling because of their seeming inability to not plow headlong into horror. At times they seem like siblings, at other times like lovers, but they’re kindred souls either way, and they appear to thrive in the darkness. The more time you spend with them the harder it gets to envision them in a setting outside haunted forests, spooky old mansions, menacing alleyways, and fields of overgrown and malevolent flora. They’re the tongue that can’t stop poking the hole in the tooth. They’re right where they belong.