Peter Milligan
Face (1995)
Medium: comic
Year: 1995
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Duncan Fegredo
Format: 57 pages
Website category: Comics
Review date: 20 August 2021
My God, that's the most grossest thing in the world.
Okay, no. It's not. That's a ridiculous exaggeration... but it's how I felt after reading this. A hot young plastic surgeon is hired to spent six months on the Caribbean island of Andrew Sphinx, one of the world's most famous fine artists. He knew Picasso, who painted his portrait. He talks about cubism. "You are the new artists, David. You and your kind. You just don't realize it. You're still stuck in classic realism, and you're not even aware of it."
Consider where Milligan might take this. Plastic surgery is creepy even at the best of times, of course, with all the gross-out potential of ordinary surgery but with the extra "ewww" factor of pulling your face open. For vanity. (Or, here, art.)
Furthermore, almost all the characters are hateful. (Beccy's fairly nice, though.) Andrew Sphinx is a monster, but our plastic surgeon, David, is nearly as bad. I wanted his wife to divorce him as early as page four. The indications were still slight at that stage, admittedly, but I was proved right. So, so right. David also has a habit of analysing everyone's bones and musculature in his head, in off-putting medical language.
What makes a face beautiful? Why does one say the same of paintings? Milligan's hit on some powerful themes here and you'll want to flee and hide from them. It's an intriguing story, but it's also the opposite of fun.