Thursday, January 13, 2011

Melmoth: Prologue

In terms of presentation Melmoth is similar to Jaka’s Story. It’s not arranged in issue format, but with a prologue, a 200 or so page story and then an epilogue. It also continues Dave’s interest/obsession with Oscar Wilde. It is considerably shorter than Jaka’s Story and it’s author refers to it as a short story. In terms of it’s length as compared to the other phonebook collections it is much thinner.

Frustratingly the prologue does not seem to pick up where Jaka’s Story left off and doesn’t concern any of the central characters from that book. The chapter opens on a scene outside a café in Iest. It focuses on a large, clean shaven, bespectacled man wearing a plaid suit jacket. The size of the man, his exaggerated jaw soon tip readers off that this is another one of the Roaches incarnations, as the focus narrows you also realise that in true Roach style his glasses have little antenna attached to them. In appearance he looks rather like the Roaches version of normalman. Normalman by Jim Valentino was a highly exaggerated spoof of Superman and an Aardvark-Vanaheim title, although by the time this issue came out it may have been under Deni Loubert’s Renegade Press label. Normalman used the Superman legend as a basis for the title character’s origin, with the twist being that he had no powers and was therefore normal and not super at all.

The depiction makes sense, because under the ultramatriarchal Cirinist dictatorship the Roach is essentially powerless, as is anyone against the Cirinist military machine. Much of the dialogue is mindless profanity from the unnamed Roach character. His only interaction is with a bad tempered and rude waitress who he cannot criticise because he will be arrested by the ubiquitous soldiers of Cirin and with two guards who ask him what the problem is and order him to remove the antenna from his glasses.

That’s it. The chapter does give the readers an idea of what life is like under Cirin’s iron fist, but what happened to Cerebus?

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