Sunday, January 13, 2013


                       a 6-issue synopsis
               written by JASON SQUAMATA
                 illustrated by OWEN HUNTER

Picture this...
       Surrealist sorcerors vs. Nazi super-scientists, sniffing krystalnacht and dropping rainbow bombs in a psychedelic gangwar on the neurotic, erotic streets of occupied Paris, circa nineteen thirty-whatever.  
       Picture a league of illuminated asylum inmates in sharp suits...chic and haunted men and women...schooled in the dark arts and unleashed by a sentient dream disease called OTHERMAN, living and dying to defend creative chaos from the fearful symmetries of the Ubermenschen.  
       Its images and storylines and technologies are based on the lives and works of the Surrealist painters and poets of the 1930's...and the real-life supervillains of the Third Reich.
       It's a feverish pulp adventure story in six episodes, in English, on real paper, in colors hitherto unseen by the conscious eye.
       It’s a phantasmagoric comedy of carnage for dream junkies and Nazi-killers and art lovers of all ages and states of decay.  Close your lying eyes and feast on what follows through the hungry pores of your hypno-skin.

In Episode One (“THE FINAL ENIGMA”),  a deranged, highly unreliable narrator (Otherman himself) introduces us to Paris in the 1930’s, where a gang war has been raging since the end of World War One, a war between various flamboyant anarchists and criminal masterminds.  In recent weeks, all the great arch-villains have fallen at the hands of Otherman, whose secret headquarters is located in the upper levels of the Lautreamont Asylum for the Criminally Interesting.  He’s been trained in dark arts of dreaming by shaman priests and Buddhist monks.  He rides in a shiny black Citroen sedan to the Oriflamme hotel, where the surviving henchmen of all the villains he’s killed are hiding out and reveling, waiting for the police on their payroll to catch him, their nemesis.  He takes a nap in the lobby and kills them in their dreams.  He flees the scene but leaves a clue.  X-Ray Mankiewicz (a hardboiled American crime photographer) is called to the scene by the cunning and corrupt Chief Inspector Des Esseintes, who’s been hunting Otherman for months.  They have some assistance coming in from out of town.  They’re closing in on the Dream Disease.
 Robert Desnos is the host of a radio show wherein he collects and dramatizes the dreams of his listeners.  Otherman seems to be a presence in every dream he reads.  He’s invited to an exhibition of art inspired by the dreams and crimes of Otherman.  The artists call their movement Orakulism.  They call themselves “Orakuloids”.  They are “sleeper’ agents of Otherman.  Some of them know it.  Some of them don’t.  That clue at the Oriflamme leads Des Esseintes and his army of policemen to the Asylum, where Otherman is waiting for them, wearing his murder mask, inviting Des Esseintes to a cup of tea.  So they can discuss this game they’ve been playing before he’s taken in.  The tea is poisoned.  Des Esseintes dies feeling stupid.  Otherman dies with a smile on his face.  As a means to an end.
X-Ray is called again to the crime-scene, this time by Lieutenant Acephale, a much more efficient and sinister policeman.  X-Ray is realizing that his fashion model girlfriend, Melinda Lee, is an operative of Otherman, and that he might be as well.  The police force’s foreign accomplices (devil doll Musidora deSade and Doktor Siegfried Schadenfreude, creator of the Ubermenschen) have come to desecrate the corpse.  Their only real rival has committed suicide.  Otherman is dead.  The Nazi occupation of Paris has begun.

In Episode Two (“ENTER THE MEDIUMS”), the Nazis begin their invasion and occupation of Paris, led by the Ubermenschen, genetically engineered super-soldiers created and controlled by Doktor Schedenfreude, an old enemy of Otherman’s who decided to retire from science crime and take over Germany.  Europe is next.  Then, the world.  Max Zarathustra.  Kid Blitzkrieg.  The Iron Poltergeist.  Totenkopf.  Uberfraulein.  Propagandos.  Kamp Summerland.   They live on a gene-warping drug called Krystalnacht.  They have sworn an Oath of “eternal vigilance”...and they have plans for Paris.  Meanwhile, since his death, Otherman is appearing more and more vividly and coherently in the dreams of his Orakuloids.   Desnos, Melinda, X-Ray and several other strange agents are unable or unwilling to flee Paris.  They’re experiencing strange awakenings.  
A web of synchronicities leads them all at once to the ruined Lautreamont Asylum, where Dr. Andre Charcot, former director of the asylum, Otherman’s personal Pope and psychoanalyst, explains that the Ubermenschen mean to rule by euthanizing the dream-life of every territory they occupy.  They’re building “reality generators” that will tighten the local physics until there are no more miracles, no more doorways or windows into “Otherness”.  Otherman waits beyond the wall of sleep, behind the veils of delirium, waiting to teach each of them how to stop Schadenfreude and his impending oneiric to make their waking lives more like dreaming, unmake the invaders, and make Paris stranger than ever.  
Meanwhile, the Ubermenschen are settling in.  Kid Blitzkrieg, (“teen sidekick” to the Hitleresque Max Zarathustra) goes carousing on his own and picks up an intense, attractive woman named Gala.  Before they can consummate their flirtations, Gala tricks out his room with bizarre little art objects and clockwork rainbow grenades.  When she says “There is no such thing as a dream” the grenades go off and warp the physics.  They make Avida Dollars possible.  He climbs out of the wardrobe, a bug-eyed matinee idol type, a Spanish Surrealist assassin, known to Otherman (his master) as “The Great Masturbator”.  His pearl-handled cane emits a globular biomorphic mass that flows forward to digest and assimilate the neutralized Kid Blitzkrieg.
Somehow. somewhen, in a place that is not a place, Otherman watches all this unfold from outside the story.  Laughing maniacally in a garden of dollhouses.  Dead.  Still dangerous.

In Episode Three (entitled “THE ANGELIC AUTOPSY”), the Orakuloids are conducting seances and strange rituals and art experiments in secret rooms all over Paris.  They play with great urgency, as if the fate of all dreaming depended on their parlor games.  With their every act of modern magic, the convulsive beauty and disembodied intelligence of Otherman becomes more palpable and more present in their minds and lives.  In a back room at one of these Orakuloid parties, Charcot is feeding watch parts and strange jellies to a hysterical former mental patient named Nadja.
Meanwhile, Acephale is overseeing the autopsy of Kid Blitzkrieg.  The body has mutated into a tapestry of agony, complete with a vomiting bust of Sigmund Freud where the penis should be and steeples (encircled by little cartoon sparrows) erupting from the nipples.  It’s a nightmare in flesh that we might recognize from a Salvador Dali painting.  After hours of dissection, Acephale and the doctors realize that it’s still alive.  He shoots it dead, out of mercy.  He delivers his report in person to the Ubermenschen.  Max Zarathustra is inconsolable over the ignoble passing of his sidekick.  He wants to tear Paris apart in search of the culprit, but Schadenfreude restrains him.  Acephale has a week to find the minions of Otherman (who are obviously involved in this murder).  Otherwise, Zarathustra will be unleashed, and nobody wants that.
Acephale retreats to his own sanctum, where he has every item of evidence pertaining to the Otherman case arrayed like exhibits in a museum, with collages of pertinent photographs and recorded conversations playing on a phonograph.  His investigative intellect forms a secret origin and psychological profile of Otherman from many threads and texts.  He suspects that Vache used hypnosis and psychoactive drugs to brainwash a cult of jaded bohemians.  They think he’s still alive, on some “higher plane”, and they’re still following his orders.  They receive their directives in dreams.  He makes a list of these “Orakuloids” and has them brought to Police Headquarters.  He interrogates Desnos, Melinda Lee, X-Ray and several others.  They speak in riddles.  They’re telling him nothing.  As he’s interrogating Avida Dollars, Nadja arrives, apparently pregnant with Otherman’s baby, wanting to confess.  Acephale questions her.  She’s insane.  “There is no such thing as a dream”, she says.  She’s pregnant with a “rainbow bomb”.  It explodes inside her.  Time and space and form and identity are fractured and collaged.  Elsewhere, Otherman is laughing.

In Episode Four (entitled “MAN AND OTHERMAN”), Max Zarathustra leads the Ubermenschen to the scrambled disaster zone that was Police Headquarters.  The rainbow bomb shreds the membrane between inside and outside, between dreaming and reality.  Burning giraffes and airplane graveyards and policemen bursting into bloody blue bubbles.  Those who haven’t been hideously mutated have gone insane.  Hovering reality generators are planted in the vicinity, tightening the physics.  Some of the victims are missing: all of the Orakuloids and Chief Inspector Acephale.  They’ve been smuggled in ambulances to the catacombs, a subterranean sewer of skulls where Charcot has established their HQ.  He soothes the mutations and coaxes them all into the same trance, in the House of Soft Enigmas, the mental space where Otherman lives.  He initiates them.  The Radio Ghost.  The Bleeding Rose.  The Naked Eye.  The Great Masturbator. The Equestrian.  The Aquanaut.  The Alchemist.  The Armageddonist.  The Ectosexual.  The Secret Policeman.  Otherman activates them and awakens them and unleashes them.  Their first mission: storm the Ubermenschen HQ (a vast hotel) and abduct two undercover Orakuloids: The Pygmalist and LopLop, King of the Birds.  Into the heart of darkness.

In Episode Five (entitled “A CLOCKWORK HOLOCAUST”), the Bleeding Rose infiltrates the Nazi laboratory of Dr. Bellmer (a.k.a. The Pygmalist) by travelling through the element that connects all photographs.  Musidora DeSade is getting measured by Bellmer for new prostheses.  They have a frantic battle amongst the animated dollparts.  Orakuloids emerge through photos elsewhere in the hotel, battling various Ubermenschen and making away with LopLop, a bird-headed genius whose gloves grow giant garden shears that can scissor reality into ragged collage.  The Orakuloids (with LopLop and the Pygmalist) flee through photographs to the catacombs, but Schadenfreude can smell their escape route, and Musidora is loose in Otherman’s dollhouse garden, the zone of absolute Otherness that connects every dreaming mind.  Elsewhere in that zone, Otherman and Acephale (still dreaming) interrogate each other.  Deep inside Acephale’s mind, Otherman burglarizes his memorized files on the inner lives of the Ubermenschen.   The Other itself shivers and burns.  The wild hunt has been unleashed.  The Nazi supermen are tearing through Paris and blowing open the catacombs, after the Orakuloids (while Musidora runs riot in their dreamlife).  The wolf is loose.  They unleash their Clockwork Holocaust.

In Episode Six (entitled “TWILIGHT OF THE ORAKULOIDS”), narrated in the past tense by Max Zarathustra, death-zeppelins and swastika-shaped dream threshers and robot concentration camps tear Paris to pieces.  The Orakuloids fight valiantly with their Surrealistic magic tricks, but they die violently.  As does Otherman (again), murdered by Musidora in his House of Dreams.  The Ubermenschen have triumphed.  They conquer and control Paris, then Europe, then the world.  They terraform the solar system and swarm across the galaxy and no one resists and nothing can stop them.  A Universal Utopia of Ubermenschen where no one needs to sleep, where no one needs to dream because all men and women dream the same dream and they have made it a cold and crystalline reality.  The thousand year Reich has unfolded into a million year Reich.   But it’s the delusion of a lunatic.  
Max Zarathustra (looking more like the ordinary Hitler we know from history books) wakes up as a lunatic at the Lautreamont Asylum, which is fully functioning like it was in Episode One.  All of the Ubermenschen are here as patients.  Pathetic, drooling maniacs.  Krystalnacht casualties.  Even Musidora, laughing hysterically for days at a time, killing Otherman over and over again in her fantasies.  He owns those fantasies.  He made them himself.  Under his tutelage, the Orakuloids used their strange talents symphonically, to weave together the endangered dream-lives of every man, woman, and child in Paris into a big dream rich enough for the Ubermenschen to get lost in.  With white voodoo and rainbow bombs, they engineered a delirium that psychotic super-soldiers might mistake for Paradise.  And so they did.
Charcot dispenses their medications, drawing the attention of his interns to the strange poetry of their babbling and burbling.  Paris remembers the Ubermenschen as the kind of  terrifying nightmare that seems silly as soon as you wake up.  But Otherman is a nightmare that refuses to go away or mellow in the light of morning.  Otherman lives on in these dreams, in the disembodied voice of the Radio Ghost, haunting the the gamine glamour of the Bleeding Rose, swimming in a paparazzi blitzkrieg of frozen the shapes and shadows of all his agents, his Orakuloids.  Keeping convulsive beauty alive.  Keeping Paris weird.  Schadenfreude has escaped back to Berlin, determined to grow more Ubermenschen, another Fuehrer, another invasion.  Looking back, he says, “Next time we won’t be so discreet.”

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