PUBLISHER Image WRITER Dan Watters ARTIST Caspar Wijngaard AVAILABLE 1 June
Situated somewhere in-between hard-boiled detective fiction and multidimensional postmodern melodrama, Limbo is an ambitious, bizarre and entertaining read, with slick, psychedelic artwork to match. Set in Dedande City, which mirrors Sin City with the swamps and voodoo superstitions of Angel Heart, the story follows Clay, a private investigator and amnesiac who solves crimes but is unable to uncover his own past. When Clay spies on a mob boss for a femme fatale, he is soon catapulted into a wildly warped and convulsed kaleidoscope of intergalactic plains and shamans.
Like the classic hard-boiled gumshoes of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and James Ellroy, Dan Watters’ protagonist is equipped with typically cynical sentimentality: “I’m watching myself go through the motions; a tape stuck on repeat. A monotonous cycle to fill the chasm in my mind. Wasting my time solving little mysteries while the big one looks over me.” Clay’s musings are reminiscent of PI Philip Marlowe’s in Chandler’s Big Sleep: “What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill? […] You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell. Me, I was part of the nastiness now.” Notably, Clay’s punchy, fragmented dialogue also stays true to the genre. What makes Limbo an especially interesting collaboration, though, is its simultaneous deconstruction of the plot and the literary tools and techniques of detective fiction itself.
When considering the role of private investigators, one antagonist concludes: “Someone goes to prison. Or ends up dead. And [the detective] goes back to his office and has a drink. And the city keeps churning, wringing up new evils to walk through the door. […] The detective is insane. The detective is Sisyphus. Rolling that boulder up the hill.” Watters is actively trying to challenge and question the genre’s limits while addressing postmodern crimps and inconclusive abstractions in his own work, utilising Casper Wijngaard’s surreal and intoxicating artwork to exaggerate crucial themes. In its unresolved charm, Limbo takes giddy pride disintegrating reality and reliability like Haruki Murakami and Thomas Pynchon.
In short, Limbo is a hallucinogenic rollercoaster which will please horror and cult buffs in spades. With the bizarre worlds of Beetlejuice and the brain-bending boldness of a Salvador Dalí painting it’s a visual delight, while the plot’s unanswered climax is testimony to the author’s commitment to crafting entertaining chaos.