Review by Frank Plowright
In God We Trust is a puzzling beast in a beautifully designed package. Hardbound blue vinyl covers with gold embossed lettering and a fantastic gold embossed spine open to reveal luxurious thick paper stock. It’s what’s on the paper, though, that matters.
It purports to be a reinterpretation of the bible, but French artist Winshluss tires of the old testament very rapidly and moves onto the new, then onto Christianity generally. He takes a satirical view throughout, highlighting the inconsistencies of the bible, and portraying a capricious and selfish God who’s largely lost all interest in humanity, never mind his feckless son. He’d rather be knocking back tequila slammers with Gabriel, but God’s lot is not a happy one. Along the way we discover whether Superman is stronger than God, and the angels’ management committee’s ideas for a new bible section, as the message needs sharpening up for the modern age.
It’s very difficult to review In God We Trust without reference to Winshluss’ previous work Pinocchio. That was a magnificent melange of the downright weird and off-kilter, a stunning piece of work by a unique voice. In God We Trust is a collection of not particularly amusing jokes that almost always head into predictable territory. The episodic nature, such a strength of Pinocchio, is a drawback here. It’s as if every once in a while Winshluss spliffed up and knocked out a few pages, but once the characters are in place, there’s little in the manner of a connecting thread.
Neither is there the density of art. For the most part Winshluss opts for straight Underground style bigfoot cartooning, albeit with some variations, the strips punctuated by a few straight gag cartoons. On the very few occasions we’re treated to something different it stands out and impresses. There’s a Doré pastiche as God and Jesus bond, some Viz-style fake ads, and towards the end a spread about Hell titled ‘Inferno’ with a fantastic ornate design. This is Winshluss depicting modern day equivalents of Dante’s levels. There’s eternity spent sorting a problem out over the phone with your customer advisor, or an eternity spent setting up an Ikea kitchen with your partner.
Pinocchio masqueraded as trash culture lavishly produced, but was so much more. In God We Trust isn’t. Very disappointing.