Every so often there comes a comic book that shakes up what is culturally acceptable, and this time around Kid Lobotomy (IDW) stakes that dubious claim. Written by Peter Milligan (Shade: The Changing Man, Britannia, Hellblazer), with art by Tess Fowler (Rat Queens), Colors by Lee Loughridge, Kid Lobotomy is one hell of a wild ride through the mind of a young man who has a mental illness.
The first few pages place us within a dream in which Kid, as he is known as, is performing a lobotomy on a man who cannot get song lyrics out of his head. While carrying out the operation, his sister walks in on him and offers to buy the family’s hotel chain from him. He refuses. While his sister tries to convince Kid to sell, his mind starts to play tricks on him, as Kid sees the cockroaches swarm and freaks. He then wakes up in bed next to his sister.
The story flashes back five years to tell us how Kid became who he is now--a guitarist in a rock band whose first album is about to drop. He arrives late on stage, only to declare he wants to start playing the harp, to his band mates dismay. The thing is, he has no idea why he’s acting like this.
Kid Lobotomy is described by the publisher as Kafka's Metamorphosis meets King Lear by way of Young Frankenstein. I'd also toss in some Fellini visuals from 8 1/2 or Satyricon as well. Kid Lobotomy goes through a metamorphosis in which his mind makes it appear he’s turning into a giant insect.
Kid’s family, which includes his father Big Daddy, and sister Rosebud, own a chain of hotels called The Suites. The mother, who has had several breakdowns, is already out of the picture. The Suites is where Kid lives with his sister. It is here that Kid would meditate and play the harp all hours of the night despite complaints about the noise. The unusual behavior is an early sign that Kid appears to be a mentally ill musician. It brings to mind one of rock music's most infamous members, Syd Barrett, who despite being one of Pink Floyd’s founding members, only appeared on one album before his erratic behavior forced the rest of the band members to find a replacement.
Kid’s narration juxtaposed against Fowler’s art accurately depict a reality that is sketchy at best. Reading Kid Lobotomy, you quickly experience the scatter-brain, and nearly hallucinogenic thought process Kid is just learning to cope with. Milligan does an outstanding job placing the reader inside the mind of a young man who is suffering from a disease not yet defined. One can only imagine the uneasy feelings Kid must be experiencing, as he backtracks to when these thoughts originated. That recollection is when the crazy train departs, and the inciting incident begins.
Kid Lobotomy #1 and #2 are now available, with #3 coming in December. And is published by Black Crown, a creator-owned imprint of IDW.