It’s not inaccurate to say that Antony Huchette’s surreal fantasy/slice-of-life comic Brooklyn Quesadillas is self-indulgent wish-fulfillment. At the same time, such a statement is missing the point. This isn’t so much a serious narrative as it is a waking dream scenario interspersed with his real hopes, dreams, fears and fantasies. He leans into these self-indulgent moments and acknowledges their adolescent qualities while retaining a sense of innocence about them. Published by Canada’s Conundrum, the nearest analogue for this story is not a comic but rather a film. Michel Gondry’s 2006 film The Science Of Sleep features a graphic designer whose intense dreams start to overtake his everyday life. The aesthetic of this film, featuring a kind of ramshackle, DIY quality to the dreams, strongly resembles what Huchette does in this comic.
The comic follows the author’s first-level stand-in, Joseph, “directing” his imaginary TV show, Homemade Quesadillas. It’s a surreal interview show featuring his second-level stand-in, Fruitor Fox, as he talks to his anthropomorphic friends and look in on other dimensions. In the comic, Huchette is a stay-at-home dad in Brooklyn who teaches French online and hopes to do actual animation work. Early in the comic, a group of female television characters from the 90s are told by their leader (Ms. Musso from Parker Lewis Can’t Lose) that they are being forgotten and need a movie made with them. Her director of choice: Joseph. All of the characters in the story (Denise from The Cosby Show, Phoebe from Friends, etc) were former objects of his affection. Denise is sent to lure him to their island so he can complete the task. Along the way, the producer of Joseph’s show eats some weird food and melts, so he’s forced to come with them.
It’s all nonsense, yet it has its own logic. It’s all self-indulgent, but Huchette fully acknowledges that these are juvenile fantasies that he’s nonetheless confessing on the page. It’s more sweet than it is exploitative, as his feelings for these characters resonate at a level deeper than simple lust. They were part of what he liked about his teen years, along with the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan. What’s interesting about the dream logic here is that despite being around all of his eternally youthful teen crushes and a narrative that occasionally indulges his fantasies, Joseph never once thinks about cheating on his partner. Indeed, he concocts a plan to get home quickly (aided by Denise) and his thoughts are always with his young son. It’s his producer-partner who winds up staying. The primordial ooze he was reduced to by a bad diner meal turns out to also be a metaphor for his primordial lust. He’s regressed, unable to think of anything but sex with these women. As such, he chooses to stay (or be trapped) in this environment. It’s a land that Huchette has thought about, but only chooses to visit, leaving it behind to get back to his true loves.
It’s not just his family that he loves, but also his imaginary animal TV show. It represents his creative hopes and dreams. That sincerity is what moves Denise to help him, as he goes through a weird series of events involving dream logic. He’s aided by a Native American artist who loans him a magic log to fly him home, but not before he gets great creative advice. Huchette uses a ratty line that flips between naturalism in its caricatures to bigfoot cartooning in its more fantastical segments. That smudgy, ratty quality adds some grit to the cartoony segments and prevents the caricatures from being too objectified. This comic is a lark of imagination wherein Huchette gives himself permission to dream big while staying grounded with his family.
Brooklyn Quesadillas by Antony Huchette
Conundrum Press, 2013
NOTE: One of the images shown is Huchette’s French original. The book reviewed is the English edition.
Antony Huchette at Wow Cool
Brooklyn Quesadillas is not currently in stock.
Antony has a long story in Kramers Ergot #9