Idiots and Angels,
She’s pretty, but to him, she’s little more than property. The bar’s regular patrons include an overweight ex-prostitute and a myopic fellow with a crossword-puzzle fetish. Like the angry man, they are creatures of habit. But that’s about to change.
When a caterpillar turns into a fully formed butterfly atop the angry man’s head, visions of something different — a better life — begin to invade everyone’s subconscious. The prostitute becomes a popular burlesque dancer with butterfly wings. The bar owner changes the name of his establishment to the Butterfly Bar, puts the chrysalis on display, and his business picks up dramatically. The mop-pushing barmaid frolics through a meadow and falls in love. All of those dreams are crushed, rather literally, when the angry man squeezes the life out of the butterfly — and does so with absolute relish. But what comes around goes around.
The angry man awakens one morning to discover two feathered wings protruding from his shoulder blades. He tries to get rid of them, but they grow back, ever larger. He attempts to control their flapping with chains and chainsaws, to no avail. He’s taunted by bar patrons, but the bar owner sees opportunity (or money, at least) in those freakish appendages. He’s not the only one. Suddenly, the angry man is a reluctant “wingman,” and everyone wants a piece of him. Two pieces, actually.
Idiots and Angels is darkly drawn, both visually and narratively. Plympton shows an aptitude and deep appreciation for comedic film noir in this brilliantly executed mix of human ugliness and grudging soul-searching. Animated in pencil with a subdued palette and astonishing fluidity, Idiots and Angels unfolds like a series of violent tone poems, each one linked by a thread of maliciousness braided with weak tendrils of hope and compassion.
Plympton gives a shell of a man the miracle of organic flight and a second chance at happiness, and then shows you how those opportunities can be squandered, misappropriated, and thwarted. An unwilling angel loses control of his comfortable bitterness and, against his will, begins to feel something approaching empathy. Instead of embracing it, however,