Thursday, May 10, 2018

mini-Kus!: GG, A.Magan, P.Kyle, E.Androutsopoulos

I missed a recent early round of recent releases from our friends from Latvia:

mini-Kus! #55: Valley, by GG. The artist creates narratives out of contrasts and atmosphere. A story by GG inevitably becomes a lost world of some kind, a desire to cross a threshold that should not be crossed. In this story, a young woman gets a text from a friend that she and others are camping in a nearby valley but ran out of food. She asks her friend to bring them food so they can stick around. Of course, when the young woman arrives at the valley, her phone has no service and a dense fog has rolled in. In a series of light, airy panels, she negotiates the terrain, a driving downpour and hallucinating that a nearby volcanic steam opening was talking to her. She gets lost in all of this but calmly reacts by going for a swim. It's obvious that her coming out alone to rescue her friends was ill-considered, to say the least, which leads one to think about her motives. GG hints at her wanting to disappear but still wanting an overall goal to rein her back in. When her friend texts her that they decided to leave after all, she has nothing left to do, leaving her in an existential quandary as much as she's in a geographic one. GG's line is delicate to the point of disappearing on the page at times, in order to push color to the forefront. The ending is less downbeat than it is open-ended, with the main character's fate and path yet to be written.                               

mini-Kus! #56: A Friend, by Andres Magan. Done in a deliberately stiff style that emphasizes line above all else, this story is about a man and his missing dog. There are levels within levels at play here, and it’s unclear if those levels are all in the man’s mind or if they play out at all in real life. There’s a sense in which him losing his dog and reporting it to a police officer in the park is a cataclysmic event for the man, an event that triggers a lifetime’s worth of guilt and judgment. When he goes home after having lost his dog, a rock crashes through his wind with a note that says “Where is your dog?”. He accidentally (?) cuts himself on the glass when he picks it up, but the day seems to be saved when the policeman brings by his dog.

However, he rejects the dog out of hand; but is it because he has rejected his identity and the key relationship that defines it, or because he believes that is not his dog? The dog asks him “Where is your dog?” and we flash to his father, mother and sister all asking him the same question. Again, there is a collection of guilt that builds up to another rock coming through the window, this time with a card that matches the cuts he received on his hand. As though it were stigmata, his hand starts bleeding profusely all over the place, until we cut back to the park. The only difference this time is that the man expresses to the officer just how much the dog means to him. The dog had become the receptacle for all of his feelings, something he had to come to grips with lest guilt consume him. Whether or not his dog is found isn’t important; what’s important is that this emotionally stunted person was able to express his emotions in a positive way.

mini-Kus! #57: Night Door, by Patrick Kyle. Kyle’s warped, cartoony line requires careful attention, because there’s a clear narrative here underneath the extreme and cartoony stylization. Thematically, it’s a case of being careful of what you wish for, because you might just get it. A creature (looking like some sort of Disney nightmare) approaches the titular door, seeking admittance. He finds a tube sticking out of the door, and some sort of gas is emitted from it that allows him to go in. Through various twists and turns, he makes it through the underground maze until he comes to what seems to be a dead end as he’s neck-deep in water. He grabs for an object that lifts him, reduces him to a gas, and is captured in a pump. We see a man with a pump then push its contents through a certain tube. Kyle’s entire project has involved the subversion of the hero’s journey, and this is another take on the circularity and fruitlessness of the heroic quest. Kyle also writes a lot about isolation and how maddening it is, and this comic is thus a reflection and rejection of that quest as a means for an individual to somehow obtain greater knowledge or power.

mini-Kus! #58: Eviction, by Evangelos Androutsopoulos. This is a story about a man who heard a story from a man who became involved with a group of politically active squatters near the docks. It is implied that a number of them may be immigrants. It’s a story consumed by atmosphere by way of the balance between the shifting colors against a strong line but stripped-down character design. That atmosphere helps convey the vagaries of memory and how those details are possibly warped in the retelling. The original story is quite emotional, as the man believes his courage is insufficient and that he’s kind of a fake, unlike those who actually live in the squat. Eventually, the squat is broken up as the police use violence to clear it out. The man narrating the story to the reader visits the place and tries to square his idea of the place with the actual place—just as the reader tries to square fact and fiction. There’s no indication that this is based on a true story, yet it’s entirely believable. Just as the narrator is unable to put himself into the prior narrative, so too is the reader left on the outside, wondering.

No comments:

Post a Comment