Five Ways to Love A Cockroach (2005)

(Note: this comic was built utilizing Adobe Flash technology, which is now not supported by most browsers. When I can modernize this comic in a way that stays true to the original version, we will update this page. In the meantime, the Flash version is still accessible here, in case you are a time-traveler or dinosaur.)

Neal’s 2005 collaboration with Alexander Danner, “Five Ways to Love a Cockroach” has found a new home.

It was one of a handful of comics created with Markus Müller’s Infinite Canvas application and made a decent splash at the time of it’s release, including winning the 2006 WCCA award for best use of Infinite Canvas. It was also featured in MoCCA’s “Infinite Canvas” art exhibition. Here are a few quotes and bits of press regarding the comic:

Scott McCloud:

“…[Neal Von Flue’s] collaboration with writer Alexander Danner from 2005 is five kinds of wonderful if you’ve never read it. Reading it again yesterday, I was reminded of Neil Gaiman at his most dry…”

Eric Burns of Websnark:

“[Danner’s] sense of usage and image — like I said, poetic — is what the work rests upon, and he knows better than most how to pull it off. But Neal Von Flue’s art is a perfect blend here. That doesn’t surprise me — Von Flue is… well, very very good, particularly in works that mix media, and we see that here…look carefully at each frame of the Flash. Look how they piece together. Look how the static imagery is tied together. (This is not ersatz animation. This honestly is a new way to look at static, sequential art.) Look how quickly the whole loads and the pleasure of actually viewing the resulting file.

And then, reread, focusing on the content, and discover how creeped out you feel at the end. I mean, brr.”

Xaviar Xerxes of Comixtalk:

“Really the story could almost stand on its own but I think Von Flue’s artwork and the flash panel movement make the comic version of it greater than it otherwise would be. I am sure others could (and will) write more eloquent comments, but I just wanted to put my 2 cents down, that this has been one of the best webcomics I’ve read this year.”

And a very observant comment on the A Lesson is Learned But the Damage is Irreversible messageboard from way back then:

Look at the owner of the cockroach. In sequence 1, we see he is a smoker and an alcoholic, as displayed in the cigarette box and the wine stain. His vices control him and weaken him, till he must take refuge in the inner workings of his mind, focusing his love and affection not on his significant other (as seen in the photo underneathe the crumbs), but on something which he is able to acknowledge cannot feel. (“This is called anthropomorphism”)

In sequence 2, our protaginist attempts to justify his love through faith. In the meantime, his life moves on slowly. He gets married, he lives his life. But not without his cockroach.

His insanity grows in sequence 3, as he feeds his wife and daughter part of the cockroach. In sequence 4, his life is taking a turn for the worse. He is seduced, then caught by his wife. All the while, the entity of the cockroach continues to tiptoe along, meandering as the mans life progresses.

In the end, our protaginist kills the cockroach, and we as the audience are left to wonder. Was this all a self-proclaimed metaphor? (“They will accuse you of metaphor”) Does he kill his family in an effort to be with his seductress? Or is it in fact the seductress who is killed?

Or is it just a story about a cockroach?

As much as i enjoyed to read it, i think i thought too much about it.

And we hope that you too think too much about it, or at the very least, enjoy it. Click the link!