A Review of: 676 Apparitions of Killoffer by Killoffer
Killoffer has decided that it’s time for something different. In the vaguely autobiographical Six Hundred and Seventy-Six Apparitions, the author becomes a character in his own story, abandoning his prior life as a Parisian cartoonist and incidental epicurean, shuffling off to Montreal, desperately seeking something. Struck pensive by a sink-and-a-half full of long-ignored dirty dishes, he wonders what could’ve and might’ve and should’ve been, whether ’twas nobler to suffer outrageous fungus, or to take arms with a squad of scrubbing bubbles. Each of the author’s roads not taken finds another, a hydra of intention, eventually assuming physical manifestation. Perhaps there was some unfinished dessert in that mélange of china and stainless steel, a piece of uninspiring madeleine.
Knocked down by revelation, Killoffer gets up again, oblivious to what’s happening as he goes about his business, leaving behind these golems of squandered possibility. Sitting at the end of a bar, with a drink and a smoke and a book, Killoffer settles in for an inconspicuous evening. But at the same time, he’s gearing up to paint the town blood-red, tossing punches at the bouncer, or dragging a woman he just met off to the toilets for a quick one. We’ve all wondered “what if…?” but Killoffer knows—instinctively, at least. In a series of infinite options, he never chooses.
He spawns exponentially, each pivot point manifesting neither either nor or but both. The existentialist practical extrapolated from the philosophical, Killoffer is left alone to observe that nothing he does matters. But his actions are not without consequence. These products don’t matter, not when measured against the antimatter of their antitheses, each pair deny- ing itself. In order to release himself from this chain of auto-obsolescence, Killoffer must realize he’s always his own nemesis—which incidentally suggests that he’s not unique in that regard.
As an illustrator, Killoffer flaunts the conventions of sequential narrative, reconsidering or discarding formal standards to reinforce the idea of otherness that permeates the story. Nearly every page is a single large portrait, practically segmented through the directional flow of the illustration, but without the more literal panel borders that generally mark clear divisions. He emphasizes the flow from one moment to the next, disallowing the possibility of considering these moments discretely; they couldn’t possibly exist without the ones before and after.And there’s little in the way of text to provide (possible) relief. An essay of sorts, written in flowing script and as complementary graphically as thematically, runs through the book’s first few pages, but after that it’s completely wordless. It’s not enough that this is Killoffer’s story, that he’s protagonist and revelator. He also mandates how the story’s consumed.
Six Hundred and Seventy-Six Apparitions can be incredibly confining, with all that there-but-for-the- grace meandering. Oddly, though, Killoffer indicates a freedom in confinement, in letting yourself acknowledge the difference between what you did and what you wanted to do. Headed home from that bar—while, naturally, staying behind as well—Killoffer spies three of his homunculi raping a faceless woman. He’s as horrified as we are, but he’s even more horrified to look down on his own growing erection. Killoffer’s emotional honesty can be off-putting, but it’s ultimately liberating. Option and indecision, ideas of right or wrong, must be balanced, the value of each indiscriminate without the other.