The journey/quest trope as an exploration of the self-induced garbage we suffuse our heads with to keep us from getting much accomplished is nothing new, nor is comparing our own mishigas to Dante's Circles of Hell, but somehow in Debbie's Inferno, Anne Emond's new book from Retrofit/Big Planet, what is old reads fresh. There's a child-like lure to this inner monologue that is a result of both Emond's art and wit. She is able to turn what could easily be a thick slog through the miasma of anxiety into something light, more meaningful, and perhaps, closer to the truth about the damage that we do to ourselves with our brains.
Ok, show of hands, when was the last time you holed up in bed, binge watching Netflix, covered in the the detritus of frozen pizzas and/or Baked Lays? It seemed like a good idea at the time, right, a “little me time”, a “respite from the day-to-day”? Then, as the minutes turn to hours and the sun sets and your lethargy increases and everything needing to be done remains undone still, you start to wonder what has become of your life. Depression, at times, can be self-perpetuating – we drown in the goo of our own loathing when we “wallow too long” in it.
Inertia is a choice and it leads to everything you always suspected about your failures. To reach your potential, you have to stretch a little.
In Emond's book, this process takes the form of a journey of escape. Led by her talking cat, Debbie goes through it all, from the Land of Cold Fish to the World of Icy Hearts to the Desert for Burnt Out Passion. By the end of this journey through the Inferno of herself, she begins to understand that her limitations are of her own creation, nobody is pulling any strings. Debbie can control what she can and is buffeted about by what she can't. Ultimately, states of being are transitory, the responsibility is the individual's, and, really, there is never any end to or escape from the self.
Remember Keith Richard's question, “Hey, what I doing standing here on the corner of West 8th Street and 6th Avenue?” Mick admonishes him to “Get up, get out, get into something new.” It's easy enough advice, trite but cute, obvious yet easily forgotten. Debbie's Inferno is ostensibly another chorus to this song, but it's light-hearted enough to gain a foot-hold on profundity, airy enough to reach some greater heights, and universal enough to be embracing.
You can purchase Debbie's Inferno directly from Retrofit Comics here