Cole Turner no longer knows what to believe: just a moment ago he was still an undercover FBI agent at a Flat Earth Convention, and now he has seen things with his own eyes that actually cannot exist: a video of the moon landing in a studio and a huge wall of ice surrounding the disc of the earth. What was just a gimmick from the internet has suddenly become reality.
Turner is promptly forcibly recruited by the Department of Truth, an American secret organization trying to push back tulpas: a theosophical concept according to which fictional events, people or objects can become real if only enough people contact them they think.
“Collective faith shapes the world – so everything is a little bit true,” says Turner laconically to his new employer. And so a fight ensues for what dies first in every war: the truth.
Even after Trump and his “alternative facts”, a considerable part of the country is caught up in a veritable information war that repeatedly claims real victims.
Draftsman Martin Simmonds (“Dying is easy”) has implemented the gloomy subject congenially: Cole Turner wanders through urban and expressionistic images that never seem overloaded despite numerous filters and effects. Almost every image is accented with blobs, streaks, or distortions; the fevered look of the comic conveys Turner’s paranoia towards a fragmented reality whose undisguised nature is no longer directly accessible.
As aptly as the comic captures the feeling that the truth is threatening to sink into a swamp of conspiracy tales and fake news, it does not go into the causes: the flood of lies that solidify into reality in the comic through their sheer mass, act like a force of nature – but they are not.
The counter-movement, which consists of a reactionary secret organization that could itself have come from a conspiracy story, therefore appears just as powerless as it is clumsy.
It doesn’t take any esoteric tulpa manifestations to understand that lies can become reality: the fact that conspiracy believers terrorize the parents of the children killed in the Parkland massacre because the dead were allegedly actors was just not invented by the comic, like right-wing Youtuber Alex Jones, who portrayed the parents as part of the conspiracy. As Karl Popper said so aptly: “Let theories die instead of people.”