By Mary Safro aka Cryo and Io Black. Find it here!
Welcome to another episode of Taff Sceams About Something She Really Loves. Today I’ll be screeching about a comic I recently caught up with; Drugs and Wires.
Let’s start with what it says on the tin:
The year is 1995.About Drugs and Wires
Grunge and alt-rock dominate the airwaves. Floppy disks are still the storage medium of choice. The mainstream media can’t shut up about this amazing new thing called the “Information Superhighway.” And in the shadows of glittering megacities, a loose alliance of cyber-anarchists, techno-pagans, and razorgirls is waging covert war against power-hungry corporations, sinister governments, and injustice and corruption in all of its forms.
This is not their story.
No, this is the story of Dan, pissy misanthrope and recovering VR junkie, now condemned to a dead-end job delivering sketchy packages in a post-Soviet urban hellhole.
This is the story of Lin, a cybernetics installer who treats concepts like “anesthesia” and “disinfectant” as annoying inconveniences, and likes to soundtrack life-altering surgeries with Cannibal Corpse.
And here’s what I got to say about it:
Drugs and Wires tackles difficult topics and sometimes it comes at you swinging hard. Hard enough to make me pause after I finished a page, two of which have taken up permanent residency in my head. They live there, rent free, and occasionally pop to the surface to give me a Oh Damn moment.
Now, anyone who knows me might now be going But, Taff. You like your fiction light-hearted, what’s up with that? And I’d go: Hold up, you reading my blog? Aw, shucks, thanks. You’re also not wrong. But Drugs and Wires handles these topics (addiction, transhumanism, corporate greed, etc..) with so much grace, I’m having a really hard time coming up with a comparison to it in mainstream media. Plus, the creators pack it full of humour – not only delivered by the story and its characters, but also in tiny details added to each panel. Smush those two together and its like you’re getting a perfectly balanced breakfast served.
A breakfast for the eyeballs and heart.
Speaking of eyeballs.
The art. The art is great. But the artist does this thing where you get animated panels thrown into the mix? They’re perfect?! If I’d worn socks when I came across the first one they’d have come off, but alas, I was reading in bed.
And the world building! You can clearly tell a lot of thought and care went into it and it provides a consistent (but continuously developing) backdrop for the characters. Oh yeah. The characters! Design? 10/10. Personalities? 10/10. Did Taff develop another crush? Yep. Two. One of them is Dan, who has charmed me with how he isn’t perfect, how he struggles, how he tries, and then falls, and then gets up again, and I just want to see him get better and grow and *incoherent flailing*.
So. Yeah. Thank you for coming to another episode of Taff screams.
You should totally read Drugs and Wires. Especially if you like any of the following: Cyberpunk. Floppy Disks. Dark humour. Cute luggage with something resembling an AI. Technology Nostalgia. Dogs (seriously, there’s dogs, I love ’em). Human misery washed down with great pacing to keep you from feeling emotionally exhausted. And great characters that aren’t great heroes.
I do want to note what D&W notes on Who probably shouldn’t read it. Just in case: This comic is not recommended to any reader likely to be offended by unapologetic drug use, body horror, questionable medical practices, existential angst, or unflattering portrayals of Slavic banana republics. In other words, proceed at your own risk.