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posted January 19, 2010
Self-Published, 10-page story, multiple venues, 2005-2006, free
Ordering Numbers: http://hicksvillecomics.com/stories/?p=27
Richard Thompson's recent re-publication
of his illustration "The Four Mild Persons Of The Apocalypse" put me in mind of this Dylan Horrocks short story
of a few years back. "Siso" also contains a look at four totemic powers wearing modern dress, although in Horrocks' case they appear to be agents of mercy and grace suspended over a fallen world, not the more standard punchline of Thompson's very funny cartoon. Horrocks' short-story is packed with sideways allusions, their individual meanings sheathed one into the other like a latticework of tiny landmasses.
Its overall meaning is much less sturdy than a first glance might indicate. Horrocks' use of a set of lost childrens' comics characters suggests both the press of international concerns on a more isolated, relatively Edenic nation-state like the cartoonist's own New Zealand as well as, more generally, how an adult worldview and set of concerns can slowly encroach upon a child's understanding of how and why. Either interpretation is sufficient to excavate a significant amount of beauty out of the narrator's solemn, earnest attempt to provide meaning to what he's witnessed. Pulling anything more than that down from the liminal and into the real would seem to me a disservice here. "Siso" is far more affecting for the fragility of its few, roughly-defined relationships. Stories like this should be regarded as a whole, and then, if you insist, as something incomplete; they should never be pulled apart.