Mac Tin Tac

By Phil Hawes

A review of Mac Tin Tac by Marc Tessier

Published on April 1, 2005

Mac Tin Tac
Marc Tessier

conundrum press
$17.95
paper
160pp
1-894994-05-1

Mac Tin Tac was originally published as a series of comic books from 1990 to 1995. It is a collective project directed by Marc Tessier and Stéphane Olivier in which thirteen comic book artists illustrate a story written by Tessier. Each individually contributes the artwork for one or more chapters. This handsome if diminutive reprint is embellished with some additional illustrations.

The narrative setting is Kuskus City, a savage dystopian consumer society where privileged humans mass-produce and mass-devour narcotic Happy Cakes while an underclass of sentient bottles enviously picks up the scraps. An opening travel book pastiche, two-and-a-half pages of baroque mythology, and hyper-exposition that rolls off the brain like hash hitting a hot knife, describe how the rabbit-worshipping bottles were conquered and subjugated by the Kuskus, who had replaced a spiritual society of craftsmen with industrially efficient hedonism. Our main character, Mac, an alienated Kuskus and unassuming banana delivery driver, has risen above the debauchery to practice the ancient and forbidden art of mirror making.

Without the multiple graphic interpretations of the artists, Tessier’s sci-fi plot might seem totalizing. Materialism is presented as mass psychosis, a deadening uniformity. While the symbolism and Metropolis imagery can become awkward, the diversity remains the strongest element in Mac Tin Tac’s anti-capitalist polemic. Tessier and Olivier’s artistic direction of the project is ingeniously inspired. Despite a constant shifting of gears and some doobie-fueled Gnostic rituals, this is a surprisingly coherent work where each artist has been paired with a chapter that complements his graphic style. Thus, for example, the exacting black and white images of Alexandre Lafleur perfectly delineate the mechanized industrial sadism of the crucifix factory, while at the other extreme of the neatness quotient, Siris exuberantly scribbles up a coffee mainlining, Ubu-like Tibor Hamburger Architect. There is shared belief amongst the diverse participants of this comic book that keeps the narrative threads from completely unravelling. It is a chaotic but mostly humane vision of the value of creative work in the face of mass indifference which makes Gogo Guy, the mummified compassionate deity of Kuskus City, transcend the esoteric. mRb

Phil Hawes works for the Centre for Digital Art. His short script "Somnopolis" was recently published in nor: ideas of north.

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