The surreal and provocative images in ‘Spaceships & Time Machines’ leaves you pondering on the weirdness

Spaceships & Time Machines

Comic zine, Jonah McFadzean, 32 pgs, @jonahmcf

Spaceships & Time Machines is surreal, the images provocative: a housefly crawls on a window. Its eye provides a glimpse at monstrous and distorted faces. Indecipherable text escapes its proboscis. Two robed and masked figures inhabit a home that, in another view, is nothing but a cat turd in a litterbox. The fly attacks this, seasons change, and its spirit travels outside of time and space.

With works like this, requiring a bit of deciphering on the part of the reader, it’s easy to resort to comparisons. What does the work remind us of? What prior knowledge can be recalled to describe this? While there are works that Spaceships & Time Machines brings up for me, it is unique, hard to pin down. Jonah McFadzean draws across a huge scope, from the far reaches of space down to the tiniest characteristics of a single fly, and zooms out again.

There’s little room to breathe if you want to keep up, and the rapid pace and shifting of the images creates an overwhelming sense of weirdness. I’m particularly fond of the page where McFadzean depicts the eye of the fly, each of its many panes showing a different image, together collecting about 90 unique images. It’s a compelling design, and I’d almost be interested in a zine that consisted of just pages like that.

When Spaceships & Time Machines is over, it leaves you thinking, “What did I just read?” For surreal works like this, I think that’s the highest praise, and mark of quality.