An anachronistic parable for the convulsive elite — now in paperback.
What is The Squirrel Machine?
• An immutably strange and haunting narrative that transcends known logics and presumptive dream-barriers;
• A distillation of subconscious beauty and inspired madness;
• A dangerous object for the incautious;
• A revelation for the undernourished crypto-seeker;
• The virgin caress of unconsummated apocalypse;
• The unspeakable thing that you always knew.
It’s also the legendary obscurantist cartoonist Hans Rickheit’s
most ambitious graphic novel to date. Exquisitely rendered, strange, and
hauntingly beautiful, this evocative and enigmatic book will ensure the
inquisitive reader a spleenful of cerebral serenity that will require vast
quantities of mediocrity to banish from memory.
Set in a fictional 19th Century New England town, the narrative initially details the relationship and maturation of Edmund and William Torpor. But the two brothers quickly elicit the scorn and recrimination of an unamused public when they reveal their musical creations built from strange technologies and scavenged animal carcasses. Driven to seek a concealment for their aberrant activities, they make a startling discovery. Perhaps they will divine the mystery of the squirrel machine.
#14, Best Comics (First Run or Definitively Collected) of 2009, The Comics Reporter
Selected one of the 5 Best Comics of 2009 by Ellen Abramowitz, President of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA)
#2 comic of the year – Brian Heater, The Daily Cross Hatch
"Not your standard spookshow, but rather a surreal, grotesque Victorian creep-out, Hans Rickheit's 2009 Squirrel Machine introduces us to the world of William and Edward Topor, brothers with a penchant for exploring the otherworldly bowels of their disturbing, maze-like mansion, when not making musical instruments and other devices out of animal parts. Rickheit's detailed black and white illustrations provide the unforgettable backdrop to his ultimately tragic and gruesome tale." – Rue Morgue, "50 Reasons to Love Horror Comics"
"Applying draftsmanship resembling Rick Geary’s in the Treasury of Victorian Murder series to a plot
often as confounding as the dream transcriptions of Rick Veitch’s Rare Bit Fiends, Rickheit tells the late-nineteenth-
century story of brothers Edmund and William Torpor, aging recluses in the denouement
framing a long central flashback to their boyhood and adolescence. ... Very dreamlike, rather Hieronymus Boschian, only wryly
Freudian — a disquieting, disgusting, entrancing reading experience." – Ray Olson, Booklist
"Every few years a graphic novel comes around that is so good you have to stop reading for a while, because if you read anything else you'd only be disappointed. ... This is a masterpiece of comic fantasy. When I finished this book, I immediately returned to the introduction and read the whole book again, and again. Read this book to see what heights serial art can achieve in narrative and in the creation of worlds that exist in one character's mind. Read it if you think you can handle it, for it abandons the typical narrative structure and accomplishes its ends as only serial art of the highest quality can. This is a fine, gut-wrenching book, written and drawn by a true master." – Thad Ellerbe, Politics and Prose, "Favorite Graphic Literature of the Year"
Video Preview & Interview:
From poet and filmmaker Chad Parenteau: "The following [above] is footage from time spent with cartoonist and graphic novelist Hans Rickheit while visiting his home in Philadelphia, as he discusses his influences, his New England hometown, and his graphic novel, The Squirrel Machine. Thanks to Hans for the opportunity to let me attempt something film-ish." (YouTube link)