What a crazy, mixed-up landscape the Inferno portrayed in Overboard is. Here we have the intriguing concept of Hell as a ship forever adrift on the Ocean of Eternity, pointlessly moving over the waves in apparent search of treasure the pirates/damned souls never do find. The dispirited battles with the Green Ship (take note: green is one of the devil's favourite colours),* the dead-eyed dalliances with various female characters who soon inexplicably disappear and are forgotten, the misguided attempts to demonise the accordion: all are aspects of a particularly interesting kind of eternal damnation. Flying-Dutchman-like, the doomed ship never stops questing as its demonic vermin (at last count, two dogs, a whole colony of mice, nightmarishly huge rabbits that own little boats, and at least one scaly green monster) keep the tormented pirates on their toes.
Today's strip introduces a new variable into the equation. It seems that Louie, main demonic guardian of the ship, functions to keep the pirates in but also to keep other monsters out. The blue infant Cthulhu that appears today is clearly not welcome aboard. This scenario raises an interesting possibility: perhaps hell-spawn are actually territorial. Each demon is in charge of its own little segment (or circle) of Hell and will not let other demons intrude. "Mine," says Louie in his great universal "Grrrrrrr." "These pirates are mine to send into screaming, writhing despair until the end of time. Go find your own bankrupts or tax lawyers to torment. This is not the blue-squid-monster zone! Gawd!"**
We need more courageous comics that are set not in offices or suburban split-levels but, in fact, in Hell.*** Nicely done, Chip Dunham.
P.S.: It's my birthday. I can think of no better day on which to write about Hell.
*It's true. In various folk tales, not to mention Chaucer's Friar's Tale, the devil wears a green coat. I could go on drearily for a bit about possible implications, but let's just leave it at the fact that the folkloric devil likes green.
**Or, you know, "Saytan!"
***Actually, come to think of it, it's entirely possible that comics involving offices and suburban split-levels are set in Hell.