Friday, December 17, 2021

31 Days Of CCS #17: Violet Kitchen

Violet Kitchen, another first-year CCS student, definitely has the goods. She submitted five comics for review, and they're all quite good. You Are These Streets And These Streets Are You is comics-as-poetry with a memorable palette consisting of violet, blue, and yellow. The water metaphor is used in an interesting way; rather than the constant rain being depressing, Kitchen instead talks about mirroring the malleability of water and literally going with the flow, "ready to pour myself out to the nearest passerby, to prove that water has a memory." Matching the text with images of rain pouring from the sky, umbrellas in the street, and water running down drains as a sort of visual metonomy is clever and heartfelt. 

Immortals is the Ed Emberley assignment, about an immortal being trying to track down another immortal being on an otherwise inhabitated planet. Kitchen goes beyond aspects of the assignment in that everything in the comic is fairly naturalistic with the exception of the protagonist, who is strictly a stick figure. An expressive stick figure, to be sure, but a stick figure nonetheless. Once again, Kitchen's prose is assured, terse, and powerful. 

Do You Believe In Life After Love? is a classic experimental comic, taking pages from many other comics and doing a "mixtape" style cut-up with an entirely new narrative superpositioned over the original images. In this case, it's literally about a mixtape that someone made and is listening to now in an effort to not kill themselves. Kitchen has an interesting and varied bookshelf, especially in terms of color, and it made for a lively experiment. 

Baggage is from an anthology about in-between spaces that Kitchen was part of, and it's yet another polished, smart, and visually striking but restrained narrative. This story is about hotel rooms, clearly inspired by Richard McGuire's classic story "Here." That's a story about a space over a long period of time, as opposed to a set of characters, and there's a particular page where Kitchen depicts snippets of the lives of dozens of people who stayed in that room, echoing the experience of her unseen protagonist, who muses on living out of a suitcase, trying to imprint a little of one's home on a room, and then leaving it all behind. She also muses that we leave something of ourselves in these spaces; dreams, if nothing else. 

Lack. is a personal zine about Kitchen coming to terms with the idea that she is asexual. This was my favorite of Kitchen's work, partly because it was the most personal and partly because the art was more raw. One possible concern for her as an artist is a tendency to be almost too polished at times; I wanted to see something where she spilled a little ink, metaphorically speaking, and had a little more urgency in her line. The is a memoir that discusses a lifetime of feeling like she was missing something because she didn't feel sexual attraction and horror at the prospect of delivering something she didn't want to do with she was older. Combine that with a perpetually youthful appearance, and Kitchen described a sense of being "unfinished." When she finally came to terms with asexuality, she noted that while it was freeing, she's still having trouble fully coming to terms with being romantic but asexeal. Helping others has helped her accept it herself a little, but I appreciated the idea that she hadn't made some hero's journey, where everything was great on the other side. Things are still confusing, uncertain, and fraught. Kitchen's use of black and white and a slightly tremulous line made the story all the more effective, getting across her vulnerability in a way that her confident prose didn't always directly convey. Kitchen can do anything she wants and is on her way to big things; I'll be curious to see her direction.

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