|Need I say that sizing this work like so does it a great injustice? So buy the book, darn it. BUY THE BOOK.|
|The invertebrate duo|
Their quest? Egg thievery. Their first act in the book (no chapters or other divisions exist—page numbers are also lacking) is to steal a caterpillar's corpse from a jumping spider; Bug #1 uses this as a lure—rigged as a marionette with spiderweb strings—to trigger a trapdoor spider's trip lines, while Bug #2 pilfers a handful of her eggs, to be stashed along with others in the pores of a tree's bark. Two-thirds of the way through the "novella", they protectively don treehoppers' cephalic exuviae and joust on the backs of caterpillars trailing exoskeletal pennants. Yet there is an accident—at least an event that we can assume to be unintentional: the two collide, and Bug #1 is cast from the foliage into the depths of a pitcher plant, with #2 injuriously falling all the way to the forest floor.
No motive is ever explained for any action taken by anyone or anything in Salsa Invertebraxa; the reader is never guided to regard any course of events as positive or otherwise, adding to our confusion. Very little, in fact, is explained outright; the text is in rhyme, reminding one of Lewis Carroll, only a tad more inscrutable. (Yes. More inscrutable than even he.) Mozchops puns freely and shows an especial flair for wordplay (deadly weapons are described as "tools to summon taxes"). Here's an excerpt:
Flowing beneath is a river of teeth,
We mock and tease,
They are eyeless and cantankerous,
Marching to the beat of an unseen boss.
No time to waste, no time to slow, groomed and tuned to kamikaze radio,
Headlong to where it happens,
The fodder to the cannons.
It must be emphasized that this verse is incomplete without the image it accompanies: a mass of termites crawling to battle. Thus you can surmise Mozchops' writing style: he describes events poetically—by implication, through the narration of our protagonists; refusing to recount the narrative (which makes no sense regardless) in a straightforward manner. Naturally, this forces the reader to reread for comprehension (whatever can be gleaned); this can be either infuriating or entrancing, depending on your particular taste. Since the graphic novel is a medium not yet fully aware of its potential, Salsa Invertebraxa is refreshingly nowhere at all self-conscious of its deep nuance.
|Note the eight legs on the caterpillar|
Given all of these artistic liberties, how can I in all honesty dub Salsa Invertebraxa an equitable yoking of art and science? In a sense, this cannot truly be claimed: Mozchops makes no pretense of drawing upon science for purposes of fiction (and as such nobody can call him out for inaccuracies, even were they not to my mind most probably deliberate). In another sense, however, this book can be rightly termed consilient. For in the riotous imagination that Mozchops sets free, in the detail and respect with which he treats his splendid chitinous creations, the essence and spirit of entomology can be perceived—the appreciation of, and admiration for, the wondrous frenzy of arthropods that inhabits our planet.
Mozchops (2011). Salsa Invertebraxa. Hong Kong: Pecksniff Press.
Wilson, E. O. (1998). Consilience: the Unity of Knowledge. New York City: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.