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McLuckie’s ‘Follicle’ zine is both repulsive and eerily comforting

Follicle
JJ McLuckie, 40 pgs, jjmcluckie.com, @artworkbyjj, $12

If you’re looking for a particularly grotesque read, look no further than Follicle.

This fictional (I hope) story takes you on a first-person perspective journey through the life of a man with a “bulbous patch” that randomly appears on the top of his head. A mosquito bite? A pimple? Or just an ingrown hair?

By the end of the zine, there’s no real answer to what the grotesque growth actually is.

“As people pass on the sidewalk their eyes divert from their path to stare; form a fully fledged projection of the type of person I am; look back at the mass; and when our eyes meet, pretend to spot something over my shoulder,” McLuckie’s protagonist narrates. This quote highlights a constant theme through the lengthy story: a feeling of being watched, followed by disgust and embarrassment in oneself.

Risograph printed in the fluorescent pink and federal blue, the images are eye-catching, but also uniquely repulsive. Visuals include giant crater like sores on various parts of the body, close up images of hair follicles, and a depiction of rubbing lotion on a hairy butt cheek.

At points it seems like this zine really is a self-help guide to preventing bulbous holes from popping up, such as a daily self care regimen or an “expensive preventative daily skin treatment”. But the hidden message asks if we might be more than just our appearances, regardless of how unsightly or monstrous the world says we are.

And in the end, the main character enjoys his life and simply forgets about the open sore on his head; it’s only when he remembers about it that he feels bad again. I admit, I’m guilty of feeling grossed out by the intense textures, but I’m also inspired by this weird little zine. It’s a reminder that I’m never alone in my struggles with a world that’s always watching, even if it’s something as gross as a gnarly sore on the top of my head. (Stefanie Ucci)

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