Black Ghost Apple Factory
By Jeremy Tinder
Sadness is a powerful hand. It’s universal and potent, and in terms of artistic fodder, it can hold its own alongside between love and happiness and terror and loss, and as such, it’s one that’s almost always overplayed.
Jeremy Tinder deals in sadness. He writes books with titles like Cry Yourself to Sleep, covering his canvas with broad, blue brush strokes—but, much to the artist’s credit, despite themes of isolation and depression, which run through each and every cartoon that comprises Black Ghost Apple Factory, sadness is never the ultimate sum of Tinder’s equations, instead these stories, even those that center around the lives of anthropomorphic animal, points to some hilarious universal absurdity of the human condition.
The punchlines, with a few notable exceptions, which err on the side of sweetness (Tinder’s a man not averse to tossing words like, “cuddle” about), the punch lines are quite capable of eliciting a laugh-out-loud reaction, in spite of the consistently tragic predicaments of nearly all of his cast members.
Take, for instance, Grizzly, in which Tinder gets into a shouting match his with his giant, carnivorous roommate, ultimately ending in the mauling of one of the two parties. Sure there’s a depressing element to the prospect of being savagely murdered by one of your best friends, but at the same time, Tinder’s story, which exists at the too-seldomly explored crossroad between The Odd Couple and man’s never-ending battle with nature, tackles its subject with hilarity, without ever stumbling into the too-easy territory of some bad SNL sketch.
I’m So Tired, which draws happily overt inspiration from Cry Yourself To Sleep, presents the most unabashedly gloomy punch line of the book, and yet manages to do so with a nudging and winking undercurrent, Tinder slyly giving us permission to laugh at his characters’ expense, even when they’re at their lowest, like the neutered tom cat or the misogynist robot whose current settings supposedly prohibit him from saying “I love you.”
Black Ghost Apple Factory is an incredibly likable little collection, despite its tendency to wallow in some of our most regrettable emotions. It’s a too-short showcase of an underground cartoonist who is at the top of his game, in the world of short form.