His Face All Red

Going through Gone Home, I was charmed/haunted by the illustrations throughout the game (especially the title screen). Emily Carroll was the artist behind these illustrations as well as the user interface (e.g. the menus and the diagrams). Browsing through her portfolio, one comic in particular grabbed my attention. The comic, His Face All Red (about a 5-10 min read) is a horror comic that deals specifically with the uncanny.

It’s really fun to think about the evocative meaning of the piece. On the surface level, we understand that the brother that returns is a doppelgänger and embeds himself in the networks of the deceased. However, I find it necessary to think about the implications of this doppelgänger as well as trying to tease out the mechanics going on that created this phenomenon. For example, the hole that the brother was thrown into smelled of lilac; his brother’s house had a lilac bush. Thedoppelgänger was also seen digging a hole, perhaps it will smell like lilacs too? It reminds me of The Prestige where at the end we find out that (SPOILERS) Christian Bale lived a double life with his twin and that Hugh Jackman created duplicates of himself.

What’s also worth noting is the driving force of the comic: ultimately it is about the problematics of masculinity. The brother that committed the murder lived on his own (i.e. he did not have a wife to control/have power over), was perceived as weak/cowardly (e.g. people laughed at him when he volunteered to kill the beast), had no property, etc. His identity as a man was not affirmed by society because he lacked those things. This absence of validation drove him to murder his brother and to gain his assets, establishing himself as masculine. Interestingly, the act of violence is associated with masculinity; indeed, violent behavior is tolerated for boys at a young age with the old adage “boys will be boys,” which then carries over to their adult lives. In this case then, the brother had “what it took” to be a man all a long.