Writer: Eddie Wright
Illustrator: Dave Chisholm
WHAT IS IT?
An unsatisfied man finds his muse in a woman who literally injects him with inspiration in this dramatic dark comedy graphic novel.
Tyranny of the Muse joins the hilarious existential crisis of Bojack Horseman with the choice-based surrealism of The Matrix.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Frank Fisher aspires for more in life. He is a failing artist, inhibited by self-loathing and a lack of creative spark.
Bonnie exits the visual art world after a string of sad events and sexist, degrading men kill her drive. Unsure how to proceed with life, the misanthrope Bonnie joins a corporation called Inspicorp. All her financial needs are taken care of as an employee of the mysterious business department.
At Inspircorp, Bonnie receives an assigned client: A failing creative longing for artistic inspiration. She ultimately will become their muse to prompt them toward creative pursuits. However, her role as a muse goes beyond an interpersonal relationship. She is required to inject chemical doses of inspiration into her client's brain whenever they ask.
When fate draws the mysterious Bonnie into his world, Frank suddenly receives the inspiration he's been searching for. But what is the cost of inspiration-addiction for Frank? How can Bonnie reconcile her own feelings of inadequacy when trying to help the miserable screenwriter?
Eddie Wright is known for not shying away from the unusual in his writing. Tyranny of the Muse channels the bizarre and heads full-tilt into portraying the messy lives of characters consumed by confusion and existential dread -- and it works.
Dave Chisholm's unique linework combined with his ability to capture riveting emotion through gestures connects perfectly with the visual tone of the narrative.
His art complements and asserts the surreal quality of the "drug" trips Frank endures with the chemical injection of inspiration putting his creative juices into overdrive.
A story such as this could have taken the route of a serious drama like the more recent fare of dark comics devoid of humor. Fortunately, those fans online begging for a drop of fun or silliness in comic books should pick up this graphic novel where it takes dark comedy to new heights.
Moments of levity and serious topical issues ebb and flow throughout the comic in equal measure.
Protagonists Bonnie and Frank both understand the seriousness of Frank's addiction and dark past. However, the comic depicts the two simultaneously carousing in their star-crossed relationship through sarcastic conversations and carefree dance sessions delivered by Chisholm's artistic hand. There's a true tonal balance within the surrealist aspects.
As humans, our search for meaning and influence is not universal. Yet Tyranny of the Muse develops the individualism of that search for its characters through a plot that taps into universal themes like escapism and refuge from a blighted existence.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Content Warning: This is a comic with mature language and themes, graphically depicting addiction, some minor violence/gore, and mild conversations about sexual topics.
Tyranny of the Muse is thematically akin to an Alex Garland or David Cronenberg film, filled with technological commentary and psychological surrealism. Some readers may be off-put by the general "weird" factor and initially confused by the non-linear elements in the graphic novel.
This is the kind of story you'll have to read more than once to fully grasp everything going on here. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but readers will glean more perspective through multiple readthroughs.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Tyranny of the Muse extrapolates on the cost of addiction when the desire for self-expression through meaning overwhelms the soul. Humans long to derive that "meaning" from any resource available -- which is why finally finding that purpose can prove so utterly compulsive.
If you are a Dave Chisholm fan (like I am!) Tyranny of the Muse offers a 200-page collection of Chisholm's expressive art style perfectly suited to this story. His ability to transfer music onto the physical page also receives a few mind-blowing appearances.
Nearly anyone, whether they are a creative or not, will relate to the relentless, intoxicating pursuit of inspiration Eddie Wright and Dave Chisholm express in Tyranny of the Muse.
It's hilarious. It's emotionally sophisticated and chaotic at the same time. It's a beautiful rendition of the human experience.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Chrysalis by Eddie Wright & Jamaica Dyer
Enter the Blue by Dave Chisholm
Blue In Green by Ram V and Anand RK
If you like the art:
Chasin' the Bird by Dave Chisholm
Canopus by Dave Chisholm
Newburn by Chip Zardsky and Jacob Phillips
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Eddie Wright – Writer (@eddiewright86)
Eddie Wright is an author, comic book writer, blogger, and editor who has written for comics, movies, and TV for MTV, Redbubble, The FW, and Man Cave Daily.
Besides writing Tyranny of the Muse, he wrote the novella Broken Bulbs, the novel A Broken Everything, the Chrysalis comic series, and has written for BOOM! Studios' Regular Show comic series.
Wright lives in San Francisco with his wife Erin.
Dave Chisholm – Illustrator (@chisholmdave)
Multitalented: In addition to writing, drawing, coloring and lettering his own work, Chisholm is an accomplished jazz musician in his own right and has a Ph.D. in jazz trumpet!
Chisholm teaches comics and music classes at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and the Hochstein School.
Chisholm's previous music-related work includes Chasin' the Bird and Instrumental.
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