Welcome to Rockaway Cafe
Welcome to Rockaway Cafe – a surreal mystery comic series like no other. At times, into the simplest memories – of a quick stop at a lost roadside diner, for instance – are sown the strangest seeds.
I saw you move a certain way– Elliott Smith
Missed you a lot
Return to this abandoned place
That shoulda’ been forgot…
There are just a few things I’ll impart if you’d like to journey along. If you’re here, perhaps you’re a fan of other off-beat graphic novels – Saga, Sandman, Maus, Persepolis, Death Note, Transmetropolitan, Preacher – great! Or maybe you were drawn here by the mention of surrealism – enthralled by artists such as Zdzislaw Beksinski, Max Ernst, Wayne Barlow… or perhaps it was other, greater works of slipstream sci-fi and panfuturism by greats like Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, Murakami Haruki, Miazaki Hayao, Alfred Hitchcock… but, as usual, I digress.
Even if none of those names ring a bell, fear not – let it never be said that you lack patience, literary fortitude, or ingenuity in making it this far! Hopefully there is a little something for everyone in here, but if you find yourself wondering, mired on some disemboweled, wayward mid-season page of a brutal Rockaway chapter, whether that is indeed so, then I can promise you a few things.
- First, no thread that runs through this story is without purpose, and like any good tapestry, the circuitous route of each and every thread has a predetermined destination which I hope will satisfy, dismay, enrage, or otherwise titillate. You’ll find no J.J. Abramsian mystery boxes here.
- Second – that said, some threads are woven and snagged deeper than others. Form always follows function to some degree, so why no embrace it? The digital nature of this work means images are neither a set size nor even necessarily static or consistent in appearance when viewed at different distances, through different filters, devices, etc. Use that zoom function, turn on that scream rotate feature, be prepared for images to move on the “page” without warning – nothing is off limits in Rockaway. Except, of course, the integrity of the story. While the media may morph, never worry that the events you’ve read in the past have been altered by any editing. While you’ll find little else in the way of ground to stand on here, you can at least rest easy on that.
- Third – also as with a tapestry, the threads in this yarn may wax nonlinear. My theory of nonlinear storytelling is as follows. The three-act bubble of classic storytelling – inciting event, complication, resolution, or something to that effect – deflates outside of linear time. Death – the ultimate complication – loses its grip, so life loses its meaning. The three acts must therefore stretch their stakes beyond time – a loom onto witch is raveled a series of connected tableaus in a circle or star or spiral mandala, let us say. Act One is thus Appearance – the inciting spur being that the way things first appear, as you may know, inevitably gives way under pressure. Act Two, or the stumble of the protagonist under the weight of conflict, therefore, must be those same events through a warped or broken lens – Distortion. We must see appearance buckle and shatter before the truth of the matter is observable. And therein lies Act Three – Truth, or the recapitulation of events with all distorting lenses stripped away. But this necessitates a warning – if the enemy is distortion and the climax is its fall, Truth (or more accurately, “Truth”) must be a tangle, a braid, a macrame, as opposed to a single thread. Ideas like good and evil don’t survive. Yet empirically, they do. To interpret this tale is entirely up to you, but to survive this tale is more objective – it is to withhold categorization of anyone or anything as long as you possibly can.
So there you have it. As I write this, we’re two “seasons” deep (over 150 “pages”) and there’s a lot more to come. So if you must, worry about our heroes and their post-linear fates, worry about the puzzles hidden within and their implications, worry about themes or the intimate interactive prospect of making meaning in an absurd world – but please don’t worry about running out of mysteries!
Let us go then, you and I,-T. S. Eliot
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.