The Game is a massive fold-out poster-sized production which I urge you all to read awkwardly on a crowded bus as if you’re reading the Funnies. Since Wednesday Comics ended there’s nothing else you can do this with, and the guy nosing over your shoulder is in for a treat. Consider it your civic duty, or whatever.
It’s a story consisting of just four pages, a three-page abbreviation of which originally appeared in Sammy Harkham’s monstrously huge and heart-stoppingly beautiful Kramers Ergot #7. Nilsen regularly references myth and fairy tale in his work (such as Sisyphus in a previous Kramers Ergot appearance), so seeing winged angels with golden hair immediately set me up for a characteristically Nilsen take on a religious story with casual deadpan dialogue, which always seems like some sort of Wes Anderson absurdity when it’s placed in that setting. The Game is just that. Sort of. It doesn’t find its beginning in any myth in particular, but it feels mythic – it’s a battle between Good and Evil. It’s hard to review four pages of story without spoiling the lot so I’ll go no further except to say: there is a minotaur and he wears white underpants.
Having such a short time to tell a whole story means the economy of language and the structure here are masterful: within just five panels he’d twisted my expectations and I literally had no idea what the fuck was going to happen next. In its original publication The Game appeared sans Page 4, an editorial decision that part of me thinks was the right way to go. At just three pages long The Game left you at an open-ended kick in the nuts. Your time within it was so brief and shocking you needed a minute to collect your thoughts and perhaps put the kettle on. The fourth page is beautiful and I’m glad it has seen print – but it gives a sense of closure I don’t think was entirely essential despite the fact it gave the title of the work some sense and carefully put you back together again.