This sometimes surreal expression of sexual frustration from Inés Estrada (Borrowed Tails, Lapsos, CS, and a baffling number of others great comics over the past few years) tweaks ennui-wallowing alternative comics cliches until they feel truthful again. Lucía is a translator doing tedious work from her home and she’s talking to Felipe, who she likes and who seems to generally give a shit about her as well (though she’s in Mexico, and he’s far away in Chile). One evening, Lucía attends a house party and sleeps with Foco, a friend of a friend, who turns out to be a massive douchey mound of a mansplaining. “The war against drug cartels has been very successful” he tells her the next morning over a breakfast he pretty much forced her to go to because dude cannot take a freaking hint.
Lucía’s life is helped and hindered by the Internet (dialogue is split almost equally between “IRL” and online chatting, the latter presented in busied, dynamic, layered page design that reflects the too many open browser tabs nature of Internet interactions in 2014), which makes it more convenient to talk to Felipe, and harder to avoid Foco and presumably, easier to procrastinate from the daunting work she does from her dingy apartment. Being tethered to the web also makes her mind wander, and when it does, it’s towards thoughts of doin’ it, including a hilariously grim “what if” in which she imagines hooking up with the guy that makes her tacos and living some kind of horrible working class life from there on out, and a cathartically harsh sex fantasy with a bear-like creature in the woods.
This is the centerpiece of Traducciones: an extended erotic sequence that finds Lucia, naked and rubbery-limbed, climbing into a mouse hole and ending up outdoors for a rough rendezvous with a furry monster with no face, two dicks with an asshole between them. The scene plays out across two fulgent pages and eight aggro-pornish panels, a daring and honest presentation of the potential thrill of a sexual fantasy wherein one can indulge something quite separate from what one wants in real life and just imaginatively, violently, fuck all this dissatisfaction away. That this scene appears at the moment when a bug climbs across Lucia’s feet in her apartment seems to suggest it’s a manifestation of anxiety, engulfing her until it explodes out of her subconscious. It’s an out-there visionary couple of pages that affords this superficially simple slacker narrative some evacuative magic realism.
The useful though dopey elevator pitch for Traducciones would go something like “HBO’s Girls set in a far less obnoxious locale and laced with the trippy cruelty of nature imagery of say, Post tenebras lux.” Something or other about abundance and growth and things going on far too long, or not ending soon enough. Whether that’s putting off work or being plain overwhelmed with it, wanting to get laid really fucking bad or avoiding some sack of shit dude that was good for one fuck and that’s about it, or just staring down the stack of dishes in the kitchen that grows higher and higher and therefore, harder to deal with. Shit, man.