What are the consequences of murder? This is a story of murder seen as the ultimate escalation of desire -- therefore this is a fable about the destructive nature of desire. The narrator gets the pearls, but they become meaningless to him as he has a new desire -- the riches of a lost city. The disintegration of the map to this new desire -- to me -- symbolizes the loss of his soul and the fragmentation of his moral compass.
Of course, I had none of this in mind as I made the comic. These are just ideas that come to me when I read it, years later.
I always wondered why the Peter Lorre/pearl drinker didn't just redeem the pearl for the map at the pawn shop. It must have been a fake -- but then, why does the narrator kill him if he knows the pearls are fakes? Perhaps the murder is not about desire, but instead a psychopathic urge to kill -- perhaps triggered by being conned.
Recently, comics guru Steve Willis read this story and it made him think of The Human Ostrich, a novelty (freak) act in which a guy can swallow any small object given to him.Since I was studying carnival side show acts at the time, this may have been an inspiration to the story.
I can say for sure that I was inspired by Fritz Lang's and Peter Lorre's "M." You can't tell, but the figure at the top of page 2 was drawn from a photograph of Peter Lorre.
This story was originally made in 1989 in a 24-hour period in Leominster, Massachusetts and published as a mini-comic. It represents a completely improvised work, made with crow-quill and globe point dip pens, and no penciling. I can still remember the oily, slightly fishy smell of the Higgen's black india ink I used.
This was my first 24-hour comic, conceived completely independently of the current 24-hour comic movement. I've been pleased to see that others figured out the beauty of the 24-hour comic, too.
Copyright 2012 Paul Tumey. All rights reserved.