This existential sci-fi anthology from SelfMadeHero showcases six short comics, taking the reader to several Black Mirror-esque worlds that seem in the same breath far-flung and far too close for comfort. The tales shine a somewhat bleak, slightly unsettling light on our modern love affair with technology, and ask some intriguing questions about what it really means to be human.
To start, we’re presented with the colourful transhumanism of Box Brown’s “UPLOADING” and the question of what it means to be alive in an imagined future that feels off-puttingly prescient, despite the distant setting. Then, from the wonderfully named Case Files of the Cyber Info Co. Social Media Security Force Meme Division and the equally wonderful mind of Erik Svetoft comes “STHLMTRANSFER”, a bizarre and slightly horrific look into the future of cyber theft in Stockholm. The art style here is as off-kilter as the story, with almost no dialogue needed to convey the tale of a file transfer gone bad.
The highlight of the book comes with the whimsical tale of family that is Shaun Tan’s “Here I Am”. Tan takes a bizarre alien world rendered in what looks like coloured pencil, and really makes it feel like a cohesive and comfortable place, seen through the eyes of the diminutive protagonist. It feels like the kind of children’s story that everyone will enjoy reading and is a heartwarming break in the midst of some rather grim tales. Tillie Walden’s “Contours” brings us, with a bit of a bump, back to an earth where technology has deserted humanity, yet it’s a surprisingly uplifting offering about love and insecurity in a post-technology world.
This is followed up with “Be Little With Me”. Julian Hanshaw’s truly odd story stars a god, a projector, and a chicken, and gives the reader something of a masterclass in why it’s not necessarily the best idea to attempt to profit off the unknown. I Feel Machine finishes with “Bloody Kids” by Krent Able, which despite having the collection’s most conventional comic book art, serves up a truly unpleasant tale of darkness made possible through technology.
If you enjoy a splash of life and warmth in your darkness, I Feel Machine might just be the collection of stories you’ve been waiting for.
I Feel Machine is available from 20 September Buy I Feel Machine