Publisher: Image Comics
Writer/Artist: Mirka Andolfo
Colour Assists: Gianluca Papi
Lettering: Fabio Amelia
Release Date: 10th October 2018
Unnatural is part of long tradition of brilliant, subversive, sexy (and occasionally anthropomorphic) Euro comics. But where, say, Blacksad is a dirty, grubby noir and Valérian & Laureline is a sumptuous space opera, Unnatural is a contemporary tale – albeit with a pig-twisted tail.
It’s a paranoid mystery, an Orwellian dark fable of morality and individuality, like a 15-rated Zootroplis. There’s shades of Love & Rockets, too, but ultimately it’s entirely its own thing.
Leslie, the heroine, is a blue-haired rock pig, shy, chubby, insecure and plagued by erotic dreams of a wolf (which may or may not be because of her mother’s affair with one). She has a dead-end job waitressing with a creep of a boss, but gets by with the help of her best friends, Trish (roommate, socialite and mouse), Derek (nerdy, gay goat) and pet lizard, Pif (not sure how animals having animals as pets works, but it’s not like it make sense in the house of mouse either).
As Leslie approaches her 25th birthday, without a same-species partner, she is being forced into a government breeding programme to find her “ideal” mate. Derek’s solution is she marry his pig boyfriend, Max, allowing them all to hide their deviant tendencies, but Leslie, having rejected this, has decided to take the plunge and at least try to get the system to work for her. Unfortunately, things have very much not gone to plan, with the issue opening as Leslie deals with the murder of Trish – and her as prime suspect.
Unnatural works because it’s relevant and believable in a world of increasing social anxiety and extremist politics in the mainstream. Yes, it’s a story about anthropomorphic animals, but that just serves to highlight the similarities, not differences, with our world. It’s driven by Andolfo’s art. It’s astonishing how she walks the line between childlike colours and edgy, razor-sharp pencils carving out extremes of emotions. It’s true creator vision at work, as she writes, pencils and colours the book as a whole; it’s unsurprising that it sits so well in Image’s stable.
By the end of this issue, the last of volume 1 (available collected in Tpb form on Nov 21st), Leslie’s got to deal with the government, the sinister cult-leader Glance, and an increasingly supernatural presence of the wolf from her dreams. Like any good mystery, it asks more questions than it answers.
I love Unnatural; on paper, I really shouldn’t. I’m a pretty vanilla supers guy, with the occasional dash of body shock Lovecraftian horror thrown in. But Unnatural is a gem of a book. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, but like the story itself, why we should we just stick to what we know?
If you want to find out more about UNNATURAL, make sure to check out our interview with Mirka Andolfo by CLICKING HERE.