Into the mind of Teare, we delve again with Minotaur, a fantastic illustrated story. The prologue sets the stage, our hero Cypher-dude is attempting to fix his television out on the stoop. In this case, the stoop is a fire escape off a high-rise apartment building a zillion stories up. A plain-jane neighbor brings her healthy looking plant into the scene. These character’s will be seen later (plain jane & the plant, that is). Jane “plainly” understands TVs better than Cypher-dude. He zaps the TV while ignoring her suggestion of how to fix the thing.
Enter: the mysterious postcards laying on the table. Jane, being very astute, notices the cards and recognizing one of the photos as a statue she has seen. She produces an encyclopedic-guide book. There are subtle hints on the book’s page readable to us the viewer about paradox. Eluding possibly to the opposite nature of the Minotaur and Mermaid statues seen in this episode. Plus with the oldest and most extensive underground water system beneath the huge statues: the symbolic unconscious hath returned. We are delighted. The stage is set. Plain Jane leaves her flower in Mr. Dude’s care.
Unfortunately, he has been bitten and soon will be consumed by the mysterious cards and their “indecypherable” messages. Of course to us the viewer, the hidden meanings are as plain as Jane. But, to the ever blind Cypher-dude, he looks beyond the mark trying to figure out what female is secretly in love with him. In fact, it becomes a fantasy game for a few frames.
Finally awareness slaps him in the face, “a message within a message.” He decodes this by assuming there are only four directions in life: backward, right, left, or straight. We laugh again knowing there are more directions to go than four.
Cypher-dude once again oversimplifies simplicity. He responds as only a temporal left-brainer can: he panics thinking time is an important element in the rescue he’s been secretly called to perform. He impulsively heads for the airport.
We call your attention to the statue portrayed on page 63. A large, stout female bears the burden of the world at her middle as if it were a pregnant belly. Okay. It’s not even symbolic. The creative process is the life of the world and a burden carried by whom? The viewer. I think not. The artist. Yes. He or she makes the world aware through humor, tragedy, paradox, irony, and absurdity, at which Teare excels. Enough, back to the story.
Cypher-dude cashes in his frequent-flier miles and heads for Minotaur City. Following the directions of his several postcards, he ends up descending into the chilly waters beneath the Minotaur statue. (Minotaur is the the devouring father archetype. The barrier to creativity.) Dude’s now in a labyrinth. He has the foresight to mark his path with chalk. Our champion thinks of everything! Finally, he sees his goal but has to “wait-and-watch” for many hours until he is numb and shivering. At last, a figure leaves the jail-like door and secludes the key behind a sliding brick. Cypher-dude sees all this and retrieves the key after the man rows away in a boat.
Raw adventure: we come to the mysterious woman. She is naturally beautiful. She seems to recognize Cypher-dude. She insists they must flee immediately. She drags C.D. to the boat at the dock outside. She seems vigorous, determined, and … well … yummy. She asks Cypher-dude if he marked his trail, to which he exhilarated replies, “Yeah. I did!” to which she responds, “Good! That will give the Boss’s men something to follow while we go the opposite way.” Cypher is secretly devastated or at least we figure he has got to be. Poor sap. This is irony at it’s best. The old slap in the face when you think you just did something wonderful. Now even more insult: Cypher-dude isn’t even special. She’s shot-gunned those postcards out to people at random. Oh, pain. We practically weep for no-name Cypher-dude’s breaking heart. She’s got everything under control. He just there for the boat ride.
During the boat ride, “Miss Beautiful” explains her daughter-father relationship with a gangster and controlling-parent figure she never chose, or even got assigned, she was just snaked out of the river, abandoned orphan that she was. She says, “He was my jailer, not my father.” I gives me chills! She then finishes her story with, “I don’t like the Boss. But I guess I don’t hate him either.”
Papa returns with a few thugs. He calls for Sweetie. But Sweetie is gone. And he is pissed. He sends the thugs to get them by following the decoy trail of chalk “X”s.
Sweetie and Cypher-dude meanwhile are in rough waters. So they symbolically get “married?” by tying themselves together with a rope. And none to soon, for they come flying over a waterfall and down towards a whirlpool. Around they go until Sweetie bails out with a #10 Swan dive, saying, “Follow me!” Poor Cypher-dude really doesn’t have much choice as he is dragged overboard by the rope and down he goes. Next we are shown an entertaining drowning sequence while Cypher-dude is towed underwater by Wonder Woman and his umbilical-like rope.
Finally, they reach safe ground and Cypher-dude is restored (or should we say, “reborn?”) Up a ladder they go and where should they end up … of course … under the Mermaid statue. The Mermaid is the imprisoned Jungian anima (creativity personified,) I feel better. Do you? The meaning is still a mystery, eh? Wait and watch. You’ll understand soon enough … for …
Now they make an escape on a motor scooter to the airport. The airport looks appropriate for a farewell. It’s Casa Blanca without Rick and Ilsa. Now the ironic departure to end all. Cypher-dude, at the top of the airplane ramp, blurts, “I love you!” to Sweetie. She can’t hear him over the engine noise. So he yells it at the top of his lungs. Her response, “I can’t hear a word you’re saying!” It’s too good. You can’t help but love every frame of this story. The economy of it is great. Each page is done with optimization. Your eye is always drawn through the panels. No wasted words. Let the art speak it own story. But the story isn’t over. We see Cypher-dude flying home. All passengers are reading romance and love stories. But Cypher-dude is reading Fish Tales with a mermaid-like tailfin on the cover. Yes, folks. He is still enamored with the anima. The girl he could say, “I love you” to, but she couldn’t hear it because the noise was too loud.
Cypher-dude arrives home. His mailbox is jammed with postcards. He takes them all out and chucks them in the trash. He goes out on the stoop and starts fiddling with the TV. He is oblivious to the wilted flower at his elbow. Plain Jane comes down and is very sad to see her dead plant. Cypher-dude is mortified. He forgot all about it. The TV is working. The solution, of course, is the one recommended to Cypher in the beginning of the story by Jane. They both sit down to watch as a program called “World of Flowers” comes on. The same healthy flower as the limp wilted one is featured on the screen. The irony again is exquisite.
From a Jungian dream/symbol interpretation, this story represents liberating the anima from captivity and finding freedom (rebirth) through new creativity. With the dream anima expressed through creativity, man can accept his marriage to a real woman and doesn’t feel it is bondage. Marrying the anima doesn’t work. She is a fantasy. No real woman can measure up to a fantasy’s enticements.
But more than mere dreams, this chapter of the Cypher saga is delightfully fun and will make you laugh.