Webcomic Wednesday: Megg and Mogg - “Megg’s Depression” by Simon Hanselmann
It stars a witch, a werewolf, an anthropomorphized owl-man, and a talking cat, but other than that there’s pretty much nothing inherently fantastical about Simon Hanselmann’s Megg and Mogg. I know: Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? But it’s true. An occasional storyline or side strip might introduce us to the titular witch Megg’s coven or something, but she and her cat/fuck-buddy Mogg and their dull friend Owl and their obnoxious friend Werewolf Jones are really just everymonsters. Their ongoing misadventures, which gifted young cartoonist Hanselmann chronicles in various short strips and stories around the Tumblrverse and in seemingly countless comics anthologies, could be had by pretty much any quartet of dirtbags. They get faded, they navigate their dysfunctional relationships with one another, they get angry about other things and take it out on each other, they read and review a ton of comics (Megg and Mogg are to alternative comics what Beavis and Butt-head were to alternative rock videos). And in this unforgettable strip, they get depressed.
I’ve seen other comics use this visual metaphor for depression’s oppression — a sea of black slowly taking over the panels until that’s all that’s left. Hanselmann’s treatment of the idea is distinguished by two factors. First, we get a full page that’s just drawing after drawing of Megg lying in her bed, wide-eyed and supine. If not for the painstaking and lush detail of her hair’s slightly shifting tendrils you might even mistake her immobility for a copy-and-paste job. By waiting this long before the metaphor takes hold, Hanselmann forces us to reckon with the human beneath all that blackness, and it’s riveting.
The second factor is that the blackness has a source: three huge, floating demoniac hag heads, drooling the darkness out of their open mouths. There are times, this suggests, when the pain is so unbelievable that the literally unbelievable makes as much sense as anything else in that moment. In a cycle that’s both vicious and virtuous, this interplay of supernatural-horror imagery and real-life-horror emotion enriches and strengthens the power of both.