Have you ever wanted to go on a safari, but instead of animals there were giant parasites and insects? If so, let Jesse Jacobs take you there in his newest graphic novel Safari Honeymoon. The story takes you through the adventures of a newlywed couple learning about each other as their guide leads them through a vast and strange environment … except that it’s an environment more fit for a nightmare than a honeymoon. If, at any moment, they lose track of their experienced guide they could be killed by a giant spider-like creature. They could be taken into the woods by psychic monkeys. Or, perhaps the most frightening of all, they could become infested with an array of parasites.
Some of the parasites are relatively harmless. Their guide, for example, has a parasite instead of a tongue that takes a small amount of every bite of food the guide takes. In return for this, the parasite has given the guide an impeccable sense of taste.
There are other parasites, though, that are more harmful. Brain leeches can crawl inside any orifice as its host sleeps. At first, its presence isn’t noticeable, but after a while the symptoms show themselves. Extreme hunger, then an urge to climb high into the trees, and finally the human secretes a sticky substance forming a cocoon around its body and inside it larvae mature devour the human. Then, the matured leeches are released into the wild to begin again.
But their guide takes the utmost precautions in ensuring they do not become infected. He is aware of the symptoms; he is in tune with the environment. And, ultimately, this isn’t a horror comic. The drawings are weird, but not really gross. The creatures look a lot like magnified bacteria, and some of them are kind of cute. Jacobs’ illustration is spectacularly detailed and full. Some pages just have drawings of imaginary plant specimens, or foods the guide likes to cook.
And underneath all of the weirdness is a story of a new phase of a relationship: arguing over what to name a first child, feelings of jealousy or inadequacy, discovery, and parental instinct.
Although the dangers of nature in Safari Honeymoon are a bit more pronounced, there is a comparison to our own world. We should be careful when venturing into unknown territories. We should not touch the animals. We should not stray from the group. We should not eat the plants. Every danger in this fictional world is equivalent with a danger in our own. Even the psychic monkeys … somehow.
The graphic novel was a quick, fun, kind of disturbing read. The tour guide was a little bit of a foodie, safari guide version of Special Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks: full of information seemingly acquired from a dream. Jesse Jacobs: though his imagery is a bit grotesque at times, you have to admire his form. Even for non-comics fans, I think this is a story every one can relate to or be frightened by. Give it a try!
Jesse Jacobs is a Canadian artist living in London, Ontario. He was born in Moncton, New Brunswick, and now draws comics and things from his home in London, Ontario. He has worked on the Cartoon Network show Adventure Time, and has appeared in the 2012 and 2013 editions of Best American Comics. He’s drawn the comic books called Even the Giants (Adhouse Books, 2011), By This Shall You Know Him (Koyama Press, 2012), and the forthcoming Safari Honeymoon (Koyama Press, 2014).