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Ant Colony

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,584 ratings  ·  145 reviews

The debut graphic novel from a dazzling newcomer with a singular, idiosyncratic style

In the few short years since he began his pamphlet-size comic book series Lose, Michael DeForge has announced himself as an important new voice in alternative comics. His brash, confident, undulating artwork sent a shock wave through the comics world for its unique, fully formed aesthetic.
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published January 28th 2014 by Drawn and Quarterly
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4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,584 ratings  ·  145 reviews

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Feb 12, 2014 rated it liked it
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i don't know why i didn't love this book. i should have - it's about ants and war and the despair of the overlooked:

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and conquest:

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and the big questions; the things that divide us, the impossibility of communication

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but also gruesome horrible death

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and these kind of richard scarry-gone-bad overview shots like rarrrrrrrrr

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and pretty endpapers:

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which are all good things!

but then there are these other things that just kind of grossed me out. yes, i KNOW i read monsterporn and i should be totally i
Jan Philipzig
Sep 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Goodness gracious! What was that?? And why do I feel so weird?!? If David Lynch ever directed a movie for Disney, I guess the result would be the movie equivalent of this comic book: cute, candy-colored, beautiful, mysterious, surreal, enigmatic, fearless, subversive, dark, obsessive, merciless, disturbing, brutal, deranged, and more than a little painful. An artfully delivered punch in the gut - what more could you ask for?
Sam Quixote
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was ok
Ant Colony is a subversive look at Western society through the prism of anthropomorphised ants. A couple of gay ants have relationship troubles; everyone’s bothered by the repetitive drudgery of their work and the seeming pointlessness of keeping their Queen happy; a father gives bad advice to his son regarding an earthworm leading to his son becoming a prophet(!); there’s an ant-hunt to catch a serial-killing spider; and war with the red ants, a neighbouring colony, begins.

This was my first Mi
Anthony Vacca
Jun 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
With Ant Colony, Michael DeForge has served me exactly the kind of graphic novel that I love to chomp, chew, swallow and smack over. A veritable feast for the sequential art gourmet with a palate for the bizarre and existential à la Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Heart of Glass. Starting off as an offbeat, slice-of-life story about a black ant colony that could have been conceived by the painter Francis Bacon, events then take a ruinous turn during the second course, as war is wag ...more
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It's possible people thought I was a crazy person as I cracked up reading this on the Metro. The drawings are mostly simple panels of stick-like ant and bug figures, but the characters are creatively designed and well composed and you'll find yourself caring about their doomed attempts to find community as their colony falls apart around them. And every so often the artist throws in a huge one or two page panel that is just gorgeous to look at. I especially loved the gross and psychedelic design ...more
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
LOLs early on and full-page Boschian panels of battles with red ants. The story broke apart but not the art. I met the author a few years ago at a book release party for one of his friends who played in a band with a friend of mine. Of all the books in the store devoted to comics and graphic novels etc, I was most attracted to one that turned out to be his. Been meaning to look at his stuff ever since. His drawing is unmistakably his own at a glance.
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is SO WEIRD. I think I loved it? But if someone told me they hated it, I'd be like "yeah."

Also, I knew it would be super dark and existential and gross, but I was surprised to find myself laughing out loud a lot. What does that say about me?
This is like a really dark, adult episode of Adventure Time only with black ants, red ants, bees, spiders, and limousine centipedes.

The illustrations are somewhat creepy, the black ants are not cute like real black ants but look more like mutated little NoFaces from "Spirited Away." The red ants look a little more like ants in that they have big ol' mandibles and giant eyes on their bulbous heads but the similarities end there. The spiders are freaky with their huge, open-mothed '30's-cartoonish
David Schaafsma
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art-comics
Ants, or ant-like creatures and other bug like creatures. DeForge obsessively creates this pretty detailed ant world with sex and politics and war and death, a world… which is also bizarre and gross and surreal at times.
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: insect enthusiasts on Salvia
4.5 stars -- This is your ant farm on drugs. Any questions?

Like many of the best aspects of art and life, ANT COLONY is difficult to describe. Human nature, war, and pettiness are examined through the use of fever-dream imagery of ants and other insects. I love all things weird, and I found ANT COLONY absolutely compelling. Those not attracted to the surreal aren't likely to be quite so amused, however.

I did dock this one-half a star because I thought that a small number of scenes--most notably
Ash Ponders
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
Instantly enthralling. I too want to fuck a living thing as it lies trapped in a spiderweb.
Feb 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, read-in-2014
I think the art world and the literary world are both destitute and decrepit, locked between the frivolous gambling idiocy of the market, and the hidebound conservative immovability of the academy. MFAs, best seller lists, and global art fairs have left us with pallid ghouls instead of vibrant art and books.

Thankfully, the comic world isn't like that. I go to a comic book fair (albeit a fair that focuses on the so-called "literary" and/or "artistic") and I am continually blown away. Every few ye
Elizabeth A
Feb 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, graphix
I found this graphic novel surreal, dark, and gross in parts, and yet I could not look away. It's the story of a civilization writ small: war, corruption, sex, angst, ennui, the search for meaning, them versus us, gender politics, murder, etc. all set in an ant colony. The art is creepily good - I especially loved the spiders, and was more than a little disturbed by the queen illustrations. My fave parts include an ode to the Lion King, the 300 style battle scenes, and the final bucket list. The ...more
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: adult, graphicnovel
Vibrant illustrations, but I ultimately didn't connect.
I think I was expecting something a little more accessible and anthropomorphic.
I mean, I'm looking at a page with images of a blender and a baseball bat. And it's getting all kinds of acclaim.
I'm coming out nonplussed.
To put it simply, this is one of the best comics I have read in a while. I enjoyed it immensely; and read the whole thing in one sitting. Great artwork that is very unique, and an excellent, surreal story. 5 stars and best reads pile.
Aug 26, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
Meh, between one and two stars. Not really funny, not really graphically beautiful, not really interesting, but it is weird and original.
DeAnna Knippling
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
A colony of ants that is both disturbingly antlike and horrifyingly human tries to maintain its peaceful existence in the face of various challenges, managing to feel like a parable for modern life and a warning about taking middle-class suburbia for granted.

What a weird book. The author works for Adventure Time as an illustrator, I believe (not one of the main ones), and says it's the ideal day job. This book is much stranger than Adventure Time, but you can probably see the resemblance. The pl
Marily SV
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
So weird. Cette bd m’a mise dans le même état WTF que celles de Charles Burns. Pourquoi je l’ai aimée? C’est difficile à dire. Quelques rires, beaucoup de malaises et d’inconfort. En même temps, le sentiment de lire un truc brillant. J’avais hâte de la terminer parce que je la détestais, et en même temps j’étais incapable de la lâcher, avec la drôle d’impression d’être face à de la curiosité morbide. Bref, le genre de bd que tu hais et adores.
Nick L.
Apr 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I think I got a contact high from this graphic novel.
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved ANT COLONY because it defied me. I assumed as it began that anthropomorphized ants would stand in for the foibles of the human condition and I would be left with a brightly colored sit-com that I’d likely grow weary of before the end. Despite reading a great review, rarely am I enthralled by animals acting human so at best I was kinda hoping for a brightly colored Seinfeld episode. Instead I stumbled into a dazzling mixture of many things I love: Yellow Submarine meets Animal Farm with t ...more
Joey Alison Sayers
Feb 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book falls into a special subset of graphic novels that I refer to with the highly-technical term of "weird". I used to avoid weird comics due to some unconscious bias. Happily, though, I've started to give them a shot. Not surprisingly, there are some winners and some losers. Ant Colony is an overwhelming "win". Once I got over my initial knee-jerk complaints ("ants are female!", "they have six legs!") and remembered that I'm not looking for sources for an academic paper on arthropods, I r ...more
Nate D
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014, comics
I read this all online as a weekly, direct from Michael Deforge's pen. But surely this tale of ordinary disaffection and social malaise (as well as extraordinary catastrophe) mapped onto an ant colony will be even better to have a single story all in one place now that it's reached book form at last. Certainly the color printing looks fantastic.
Rebecca McNutt
May 21, 2015 rated it liked it
I really could've done without all the crude humor, swearing and sex jokes, it was just crass, repetitive, immature and annoying. But the art style and the story itself, which follows exactly what its title says, are both good reasons to read it once or twice.
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Anthropomorphisized (is that a word?) insects (and arachnids) in weird whimsical scenarios that kind of culminate collectively (kinda like an ant colony) ...

but what I really liked was how WEIRD this is!

Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, comics
Visceral, psychedelic art accompanies a sort of optimistic-nihilist look at war, love, prophecy, and free will. De Forge’s fascination with biological horror plays out in colorful illustrations of death, violence, and truly bizarre sexual acts. Funny and dark and smart.
Ben Bueno
Sep 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics
I should've loved this, but only liked it. Very bizzare and unique art, but I feel like Deforge didn't really hit the jackpot story wise yet. I might get another book of his and see if he got better since this came out.
Recommended for people who like their disturbing stories tied with a bow.
Feb 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Stunning. Seriously odd and powerful work. DeForge is unlike any other writer/cartoonist out there.
Feb 02, 2017 rated it liked it
One of those reads that leaves you going, "What?"
Catherine Collins
May 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is ridiculous. I loved everything about it. Like what else is there to say.
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: of-comics
Unfortunately I did not like this one as much as I had expected. Psychedelic colouring is the best thing I see in this, the ending is the second. I think it was like a worse version of Anders Nilsen's 'Big Questions': fewer interesting or complicated ideas, less care in constructing a detailed ecosystem, a non-human point of view. I think DeForge's 'Big Kids' is a big improvement as it has a stronger character, idea and ending that you might care about.

Based on some biological research I did a
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Michael DeForge lives in Toronto, Ontario. His comics and illustrations have been featured in Jacobin, The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Believer, The Walrus and Maisonneuve Magazine. He worked as a designer on Adventure Time for six seasons. His published books include Very Casual, A Body Beneath, Ant Colony, First Year Healthy, Dressing, Big Kids, Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero and A Western World. ...more
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