by Jarrod Jones. Meet Dipso. Our stumpy monkey friend. A spud who likes his drink, who tends to romanticize self-pity. (“My soul is dead,” Dipso insists.) Languishing under his role as a “personal correspondence ghostwriter” as any regular person would, Dipso has spent his adult life articulating feelings for other people and now he’s emotionally spent.
Protests in the streets, security cameras leering from every street corner, asshole rats poking their heads out from trashcans—where does one find the incentive to create in a bleak world such as this? In Dipso Facto, creative despair is an entire mood. It’s the first full-length comic book from Chicago artist James Mosher, who has spent years coating many corners of the city in his distinctive brand of vivid mayhem. If you live here you’ve seen Dipso before, spinning records, swilling booze, literally separating limb from limb before your very eyes. Mosher is a vital voice in Chicago, a street artist who wields spraycans as though they were a stylus, who has a profound affection for his surroundings and wants them to live a second life.
With Dipso Facto #1 Mosher lets Dipso pad around the western neighborhoods of Chicago with his chief source of moral support, Colfax. Decked out in a derby cap and dressed to the nines, Colfax is the high-functioning optimist Dipso never could be; Dipso is an artist, burdened with loaded interpretations of the modern living condition, trapped in a world he never made. And beyond these low-key, Steve Gerber-esque examinations lies a creative link between these two characters which charts a fascinating landscape of Mosher’s varied inspirations: Colfax is Hercule Poirot as realized by Matt Groening, Dipso is what happened when Curious George met Sega.
So Colfax encourages Dipso to get out of the house, get brunch in. A grown-up exploit imbued by genuine moments of inspiration. When the city opens up, so does Dipso, who slowly begins to let us in on his many fears, philosophies, dreams. There’s a moment where Dipso describes his writer’s block, a nightmare of void and duty where Mosher takes his duotoned pinks and blacks and allows a malevolent form to take shape. Later, Mosher moves to a quiet panel where a woman tags the side of a building, hood up, getting it right. One of her spraycans drops, rolls through another panel, to another where Dipso and Colfax swagger by. They don’t seem to notice this woman or what she’s doing, but she’s there, creating, like so many in this city do. These small moments of life let Dipso Facto breathe. It’s a comic book that bothers with careful observation while aiming for outright absurdity. Imagine Howard the Duck as directed by Sean Baker.
Mosher is an artist who makes things wonderful. There are other moments in Dipso Facto that feel equally beautiful, panels that operate like snapshots, taken and then projected outward from the artist’s animated mind. They feel personal, as though Mosher were trying to capture his city’s innate mundanity—water towers, power lines, a CTA bus, one of our many, many alley rats—and make them come alive. His gifts are on full display in Dipso Facto, a comic book that catches an artist in full embrace with the city he loves.
Written and illustrated by James Mosher.
Chicago readers: Don’t miss the Mosher: Dipso Facto – Comic Book Release Party & Art Show at Galerie F this Friday from 6pm-10pm. Exhibit runs from September 7 to September 30. For more details visit galeriefchicago.com or click this.