Tuesday, November 8, 2016

mini-Kus! of the Week #3: Roope Eronen, Jyrki Heikkinen, Jesse Jacobs

Continuing my weekly series of mini-Kus! reviews...

mini-Kus #25: Magnetism, by Roope Eronon. Using a stripped-down, blunt, and cartoony style, the Finnish artist Eronon spins a futuristic but highly mundane tale of a sales offer made in a near-abandoned cafe. The use of color in this mini is almost a distraction; it's a way of filling in some blank space but is secondary to the conceptual nature of the story. In the course of what is mostly a talking heads story, we learn that the world has mostly plunged into violent chaos, with some vestiges of consumption culture (like the corner) barely hanging on. There's an extended scene at the beginning where the customer gets more and more disappointed by the fact that there's no more coffee, and that even the water in the thermos is cold--and she gets charged 30 euros. That opening scene, where an intricate set of communications results in very little, gets recapitulated later when a salesman offers a woman a chance to travel to another planet through the use of a powerful magnet. When the process goes awry, the mini reveals itself as an elaborate set-up for a very basic joke. Eronon's ability to pace the comic in such a way as to leave the reader constantly wondering and off-balance is the entire reason why the comics succeeds. 

mini-Kus #26: Little Hilma, by Jyrki Heikkinen. This delightfully scratchy, beautifully hand-colored comic with an open-page layout is a magical realist look at a family with a father who alternates between being busy and creating a magical, fantasy world for his children. The story features a talking monkey who tells stories to the kids in a highly eloquent fashion and the father retrieving a talking duck who loves playing dress-up. There's no real narrative here, other than creating narratives in a variety of way for an audience that needs them for emotional and intellectual sustenance. The drawings and aesthetics of each page are delightful on their own, entirely apart from the dream logic of the story, as the readers and the children in the story are meant to enjoy the proceedings in exactly the same way: accept and enjoy what you see and hear, and don't worry about anything making sense.

mini-Kus #27: Mathematical Solutions For A Global Crisis, by Jesse Jacobs. The Canadian cartoonist Jacobs stripped down his normally intricate artwork so as to better fit in this smaller format, throwing one powerful image per page at the reader. Always interested in concepts related to colonialism, futurism and ecology, Jacobs here posits a future world where each subsequent generation of humanity is half the size of its predecessors, until they reach microscopic and sub-microscopic sizes, asymptotically approaching infinite smallness. Each subsequent generation will be just a little more removed from the life, culture and beliefs of the prior generation, an evolutionary paradigm shift that requires each generation to go from one steady-state to another during their lifetimes. Jacobs might argue that thanks to technology, humanity is already experiencing these rapid paradigm shifts, only they don't have the resources or support to fully and safely process these changes. Jacobs' entire theory rests on the idea that scarcity is the significant cause of human misery, and that this idea would eliminate it. I'm skeptical regarding this idea, especially since it doesn't account for natural disasters and disease, but Jacobs comic is interesting as one of several that addresses the idea of a future utopia in uncompromising and optimistic terms. Of course, his use of bright colors and unusual geometric shapes both highlights the more mundane things he's illustrating as well concepts beyond our imaginging. 

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