An Inside Job #1-3 by Hob

Categories:  Reviews

An Inside Job #1-3
by Hob

Thoughtful people ask ‘What builds the dreams of men?’ I don’t know and I can’t say that An Inside Job helped me to understand. But if the question was ‘What are the dreams of men?’ I think I’ve got a pretty complete answer now that I’ve read issues 1-3 of Eli Bishop’s minicomic series.

Erratic, angry, adventurous, mysterious and sexual, those are the dreams Eli Bishop AKA Hob writes about in An Inside Job. Apparently those are the issues he tackles at night while asleep. Somehow he’s been able to recall impressive chunks of dreamy thought, almost as true memories, to write out in his comics.

An index at the beginning of each issue lays out the dream comics inside, but the individual comics are not all titled and it’s easy to get lost between the unpredictable and unusual plot shifts–but that’s not a bad thing. Getting lost between pages feels like true dreaming and it’s interesting to see the ephemeral dream world drawn out linearly by panel. Some comics only last a page and highlight a certain, potent moment within a larger forgotten dream, then at the turn of a page everything changes to guns and chase scenes.

To help break up the stories, and also to create certain moods, Hob uses different artistic styles to tell his stories. A favorite of mine being “Dirt Floor” in issue 3 which is a creepy two-page tale in scratch art about zombies and a man in a suit with a donkey head. Other comics are drawn simply and loosely with a brush and black ink or sketchy and gray in graphite. All of the panels are laid out on a gray background that makes them feel even hazier and more dream-like.

Making dream comics seems like a good platform for artistic experimentation and self-examination. So it’s interesting to me that Hob is not always the central character in his dreams. I wondered if, in the vein of Jesse Reklaw, Hob was illustrating other people’s dreams. However, most of the dreams Hob draws also include the age at which he himself had the particular dream. This addition makes the comics feel personalized in a way not all indie comics can be. Reading about someone’s actions and life experience at age 24 is far different than reading about their psyche at age 24. It was a unique deviation from what one can usually expect when opening a self-referential minicomic.

The books vary in size, but the style of presentation is consistent through issues 1-3. A silk-screened cool color mixes with black on a cream-colored cardstock cover. Images blend on the cover to create a complex picture that portends the contents within, that is, if you could possibly break one apart from another.

The dream theme is so consistently used throughout An Inside Job that it was at first difficult to break into and then really enjoyable once I gave up trying to understand it all. The hand-lettering and drawing styles are clean and easy to read. Perhaps this is why his work was included in The Best American Comics 2006. It’s just plain interesting to see people revealing themselves at their extremes, and with nothing in dreams to hold Hob back, his daring, uninhibited stories become a really interesting read.

Sarah Morean