Alisik Volume 1 Is An Animated Movie Waiting To Happen
by Rachel Bellwoar
We don’t know how Alisik died. We don’t know what she did in life to become a postmortal, but after one determined effort to pass her death off as a dream, we can be certain Alisik is dead in Hubertus Rufledt and Helge Vogt’s Alisik Volume 1.
What at first appears to be her funeral turns out to be the opposite when Alisik wakes up in her grave to find a group of strange faces looking down at her. This becomes more pronounced when they’re around other people but there’s a toy-like quality to the postmortals’ character designs. They were human once but even Alisik, with her pink cheeks and red lips, is reminiscent of a doll. Call it the passage of time or the fairy-tale-by-way-of-Tim Burton side to Vogt’s art (Vogt also has a co-writing credit), but it’s the kind of world where it’s raining, and everyone has an umbrella, but they’re ripped and tattered to shreds.
What Vogt does with color, though, can completely change the effect of his images at any moment. You have the seasons being marked out from overcast to autumnal, a funeral that’s warm with Halloween vibes, a concert decked in hot lights to capture the awe of live music, ghostly horror with Alisik’s skin glistening and glowing as she treads lightly in a white night gown, and more. The way Alisik’s hair falls often matches how she’s feeling – downtrodden, shy, etc. – and a pink bunny occasionally shows up in the corner for no reason than to prove he would make a great flip book.
As Ottie, the oldest of the postmortals, explains, the reason they haven’t moved on is Mr. Grim hasn’t decided where to place them yet – the world of light or the world of dark. Memory recovery after death takes a while to occur so Alisik isn’t sure which way she’s leaning. Her gravestone doesn’t have an epithet or dates. All she has to go on is her first name, but in one of the book’s more gob smacking visuals, Alisik’s flashbacks cause a lightning split in color with exclamation points. One half of her face is her present condition, the other her former lividity, and since she’s not standing in the middle of the page, the angle’s uneven.
You would think it would be difficult to resist overusing these flashbacks to tease out Alisik’s history (one flashback dedicated to Ottie’s past uses costume drama for a completely different, parchment paper aesthetic) but Rufledt and Vogt aren’t trying to squeeze everything into this volume. It’s not a first arc but a beginning and, in light of how long the other postmortals have been waiting to hear their fates (Ottie is from the 19th century), Alisik shouldn’t be expecting news from Mr. Grim any time soon. It’s less a question of what will happen to these characters than what will be addressed first. Rufledt and Vogt have raised more questions than answers. That they have enough material to fill a second volume (and then some) goes without question.
Occasionally between chapters you get a page of Alisik’s thoughts and she can be a little harsh towards her new companions but the logo for Alisik is where the spirit of the series lies – all scratchy, curly cue letters and skulls to dot the I’s. Alisik is an animated movie waiting to happen and while most of the characters are dead, they’re far from cold and distant.
For fans of Laika Studio’s films, Alisik Volume 1 is on sale now from Titan Comics.