By Ben Boruff
The Living Finger is getting out of hand—and I love it. After reading the first issue of The Living Finger, I had several concerns, the most pressing of which involved the characterization of Jason, the comic’s troublesome protagonist. Jason’s infatuation with the zombie finger—an implausible obsession that led him to commit an unforgivable act of violence—still aggravates me, but the second issue of The Living Finger offers aberrant intellectual nourishment, which is arguably more appealing than reasoned characterization. Author Garth Matthams understands effective pacing. The second issue of The Living Finger begins with philosophical pillow talk and ends with bloodshed. In this issue, Garth Matthams shifts the reader’s attention away from Jason, focusing instead on the finger, which is now a primary character named Wendy. The narrative adds depth to the finger, contemplating the nature of the leechlike appendage. In a few pages, Wendy evolves from a weird body part to a relatively multifaceted character.
The Living Finger is, as the title suggests, about the finger, and a Derridean dissection of the digit unveils an erratic mess of interpretive leaps. The parasitic finger is symbolically pliable. To some, the finger’s sinister deeds are a sort of karmic justice: Jason messed with an abomination, so Jason deserves punishment. (I encourage readers to avoid this type of interpretation. Kismet is lazy logic.) To others, the finger represents unfair expectations and forced changes in the context of romantic interactions. Wendy is a manifestation of Jason’s strongest desires, and he attaches those desires—in the form of a living finger—to Jennifer, which causes Jennifer to become something else. So when Wendy explains that Jennifer is “screaming and cursing and not quite accepting the fact that she’s no longer in control,” the comic is acknowledging the incompatibility of performance and true identity. Perhaps Wendy (the finger) is a personification of Jason’s fragile sociability, and Wendy’s violence is a result of Jason’s insecurities. Or maybe Garth Matthams is simply capitalizing on humanity’s innate fear of malicious, moving objects that should be inanimate.
I refuse to believe that The Living Finger’s living finger is just a living finger. It means something, and I will figure it out. In the meantime, this comic offers enough intriguing action to satisfy my need for bizarre entertainment, and I look forward to more in the next issue.
The Living Finger #2
Writer: Garth Matthams
Artist: Armin Odzic
Publisher: Darby Pop Publishing