Webcomic Wednesday: Gut Feelings (excerpt) by Leah Wishnia
Bloody, savage, vulgar, and extremely intelligent, this one-page preview of a short story from cartoonist Leah Wishnia’s forthcoming collection Gut Feelings deploys a powerful array of weapons in its quest to convey both physical and emotional violence — it’s just that some of them are silencer-equipped. Wishnia’s fierce, insistent line; the goggle-eyed madness of her character designs; the coarse and direct language and the artfully artless lettering with which it’s delivered; the sanguinary act at the sequence’s center — these are all readily apparent. Tougher to discern on the surface but no less crucial to the comic’s impact are Wishnia’s intrapanel layouts, heavy on dramatic diagonals that force the eye to dart across the page like a lightning bolt, like a knife fight. In the top panel, the attacker’s arms and legs, her knife, the nearby step, and the orientation of her looming head to her victim’s smaller one slash the panel from the upper right to the lower left. In the middle tier, the arm, the knife wound, and (most vitally) the gutter dividing the two panels at the page’s dead center angle back in the opposite direction. The climactic bottom panel is a discordant synthesis in which legs angle outward, arms are thrown inward, the look of terror on the victim’s face is offset by the prominence of the attacker’s grasping limbs, and the vaginal stomach wound and incongruously old “baby” form a V shape at the center of it all. Wishnia’s playing each panel like a drummer building a rhythm, and the rays radiating out from behind the victim in that final panel are the cymbal crash. The tale she’s telling is a tale of terror, but it’s a tale that lies in the telling just like any other.