photo & text by nacrowe
life comes at you fast sometimes with MAJOR CHANGES that arent necessarily desired or planned for in advance. such is the case in THE FALL OF HOMUNCULUS (DRAWN & QUARTERLY, 1998) comic by FINNISH graphic novelist PENTTI OTSAMO with a NARRATIVE that centers around the PSYCHIC and INTER-RELATIONAL REPERCUSSIONS that come with an UNEXPECTED PREGNANCY for a YOUNG couple.
not that id know firsthand since ive never had a CHILD. the very idea of it, especially of the UNPLANNED variety is the stuff of PERSONAL NIGHTMARES. just the UNBRIDLED RESPONSIBILITY of it all and the gravity of bringing another HUMAN into the world. i figure that if circumstances dictated at some future point that i participated in that entire enterprise, id at the very least like to be PREPARED in advance as much as possible. or is that NAIVE?
in THE FALL OF HOMUNCULUS you have a YOUNG woman who is intuitively in touch with her NATURAL SURROUNDINGS as she loves to garden and explores THEMES surrounding such in her figurative artwork. even after her MISCARRIAGE she maintains a GENERAL FAITH in the JUSTICE of a GREATER COSMIC ORDER. in her way of thinking, that PAINFUL EXPERIENCE was not a complication of her life's trajectory, but rather a TEACHER providing INSIGHT into how NATURE operates and earning her some HARD-WON SELF-KNOWLEDGE. this is complete contrast to her male partner who views the pregnancy as an OBSTACLE to maintaining a CAREFREE lifestyle in which he can get blackout drunk at parties and have ANONYMOUS sex while in said stupor. just the height of IMMATURITY and RECKLESSNESS in the face of ADULT RESPONSIBILITY. its an INTRIGUING inter-personal dynamic that doesnt seem particularly NOVEL or UNBELIEVABLE. you really wonder how many couples maintain a SIMILAR TOXIC DYNAMIC. you also realize quickly the SOCIETAL WEIGHT put on women during this period and the cultural expectations that dont always pressure men to account in a similar manner.
in ALCHEMY there is a notion of creating a HOMUNCULUS of oneself, that is, manufacturing a fully formed DIMINUITIVE version which often reveals some UNKNOWN ASPECT OF ONESELF. often a SHADOW VERSION or one with EXAGGERATED features and behaviors that lend to the creator learning more about their own human frailties. this feels like an apt METAPHOR for the unborn child at the center of OTSAMO's NARRATIVE. up until its MISCARRIAGE, this fetus provided VALUABLE INSIGHT into the TRUE NATURES and personalities of the couple and their STRAINED relationship to one another. its fall and demise reveals their MISGIVINGS and INABILITIES to function as a COHERENT UNIT.
THE FALL OF HOMUNCULUS is a bit OBLIQUE and NARRATIVELY CUMBERSOME in places, but i felt it was a highly AFFECTING PARRABLE about the DUAL NATURE of human SELFISHNESS and ALTRUISM. definitely worth checking out.