Mike Richardson’s Cut is a compelling, wonderfully bleak graphic novel which makes expert use of the devices of the horror genre to depict an unusual and ghastly series of events. Yet like most unusual works of fiction, it can be deconstructed into a story which is far more fundamental to the human condition, and to subject matter far more banal than survival or horror.

The story follows a young woman named Megan. At a party, she discovers her boyfriend having sex with another woman. In the ensuing fracas, Megan is wounded when the other woman cuts her with a shard of broken glass. Megan leaves, angry and rejected, still bleeding from both wounds. Her cut is more than just a physical wound. The emotional scars of having been tossed aside have marked her just as much. This becomes a crucial plot point later in the story.

After the break up, Megan takes to wandering the streets. It can be assumed that Megan has some general sense of direction, perhaps her home. However, her route is made to appear aimless, as she walks in the middle of a road, with no stated destination. Both in the real semantic sense of the narrative, and in a more figurative sense, Megan is now lost without her boyfriend and in the midst of her anger and grief she wanders the world not particularly looking for another man. In fact, she avoids them. Upon seeing a drunk on the road, Megan goes in the other direction. She is frightened of noises she hears, having now become defensive and fearful.

Things get ugly for Megan when she is knocked unconscious and awakens in a dark, unfurnished room. As if an allegory for hitting rock bottom, she is now alone and trapped. Her wandering, her break up, and fate have conspired to lead her here– to a place of darkness from which there is no escape. Despite her entrapment, Megan scratches and reaches to get out, in futile attempts to break free of the physical, and perhaps emotional bonds which contain her.

Megan knows only that someone, or something, has caged her. Through the keyhole, she has seen a horrible red eye, and is certain that whoever has taken her here, the outcome will not be good. This is where interpretation of this story can split. The creature which has ensnared Megan can be seen as either of two proxies. First, as the embodiment of her own self-pity and anger; and second, as the manifestation of men in general.

The creature itself is bat-like. Slightly smaller than a human, the creature is detestable, ugly, and is a blood-drinking vampire. It works without remorse, living as a savage beast in an abandoned house. As a metaphor for her self-loathing, the creature works to entrap Megan in her own cycle of negative emotions. It drains her life blood and slowly kills her, and her spirit. The creature also abducts other women, whose bones and remains can be seen throughout the house. The creature could represent for them the same hatred which predicates Megan’s suffering.

These other women help to make the case for casting the creature in the role of men. After a short time, Megan finds that she has a room mate in the abandoned home. Another girl, Megan must live with the fact that she is once again, not the main focus of a man, or in this case a predator, but in fact one of a harem. In keeping with the sick nature of this metaphoric relationship, Megan is amiable with the second woman, despite the newcomer’s lashing out in anger and fear. Megan watches as the second woman is attacked, drained of her blood, and slowly killed. She refuses to let this happen to her.

Megan makes an attempt to escape. This flight is the only time she is even able to put up a strong front against the creature, as in other instances she cowers in fear of it. It becomes obvious to her at this time, from seeing piles of bones, that this creature has made a habit, a sport, and a livelihood out of preying on young women. She wants out.

She brawls with the creature repeatedly, but in the end she is unable to physically overpower it. This is much in the same way that many women in abusive relationships are not physically able to fight off their overly aggressive partners. For Megan, however, there is no hotline for her to call. There is no family member who can give her sanctuary. She is without options, dragged back to the home, to be presumably drained of all life like the women before her. Her bones will rest with theirs, and she will become another number in the news report which eventually details the finding of this beast.

Though women in abusive relationships do have more options to escape their situation than Megan, this part of the allegory demonstrates the sense of powerlessness and dependency that women feel when in these situations. Megan, like those she represents, would’ve benefited from a kind stranger who in the right place at the right time, preferably with a rifle.

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