Monologues for the coming plague

A playful collection of riffs on contemporary life, politics, language and cartooning itself that slowly builds into something more. While waiting in an airport in New York, after the book tour in 2003, Anders found himself absorbed in a series of one panel gags about a woman feeding a bird, brainstorming captions and watching ideas follow. Taking a cue from the school of Automatic Writing, an aesthetic mode championed by Andre Breton at the beginning of the 19th century that became the foundation of the Surrealist Movement, Nilsen began work on Monologues for the Coming Plague. The process is born out of a stream of consciousness followed by limited editing and rearranging. The book ranges playfully from riffs on the gag cartoon to paranoid soliloquies of a surrealistic apocalypse, with references to contemporary politics, pop culture, and religion, plays on language, and sequential abstractions. Stories intertwine, branch off, dead end and double back. These are experimental, absurdist art comics, but the book is a page-turner, and some of it is laugh-out-loud funny. Reading it is not so much like reading comics as it is watching the artist make connections between ideas, find patterns, and set down the story as it happens. 


Published by Fantagraphics in 2006.

A long series of drawings—almost scribbles—simple enough to be stuck on Post-it notes. Don’t let this fool you; these almost-doodles make a deeply funny and moving book… Nilsen goes on quiet feet where few pundits go. Nilsen takes the banal catchphrases of contemporary culture and strings them together like a master DJ. Pushing back the boundaries of comic art a second time, the results are hilarious, whimsical and heartbreakingly real.
— Publishers Weekly
Nilsen’s rite-of-passage parable Dogs and Water (2005) obtained its power and mystery from austerity: no panel frames, and characters rendered with just enough detail to avoid cartooniness. This book is sketchier; indeed, it consists of sketchbook extracts…Piquantly reminiscent of Samuel Beckett’s existential absurdist theater, Nilsen’s work is not as sad, perhaps.
— Ray Olsen, Booklist