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lunedì 17 febbraio 2014

mini kuš! #18-21

Various Authors, Kuš! Komiksi, Riga (Latvia), November 2013, 28 pages and $6 (worldwide shipping included) each.

I've already written about kuš! and its spin-offs in an article on the Italian website Fumettologica and in the review of š! #13-14, so I'm going to skip the introduction to start this two-part overwiev about the latest books from Latvia, beginning with the four mini kuš! published at the end of November. 
The eighteenth of the series is the work of Michael Jordan, a German artist, cartoonist and illustration and comics teacher, born in 1972 and best known for his collaborations with the Austrian collective Tonto Comics. This No Place to Stay is fascinating from the cover, in which the unreal colors and the use of Ben-Day dots enhance Jordan's classic drawings. The interiors confirm the Fifties atmosphere but update the Ec Comics-style of the author blending the narrative features for the iconic ones. The bearded protagonist undertakes a trip full of symbolic connections through desolated landscapes, a café hidden in the stone and an hospital similar to a prison. Here he meets a nurse with stigmata, graphically associated with his amnesia and with the curtain that allows him to escape from the nightmare he's living.

The use of symbols is an excellent trick to narrate a meaningful story in only 24 pages and Berliac, the Argentinian author of the mini kuš! #19, is perfectly aware of this. The man with a jaguar tattoed on his heart, portrayed on the cover, is the metaphor of what happens in Inverso. A biologist leave for the Amazonian rainforest searching for the "negative jaguar", a particular species characterized by black skin and white spots. But the departure displeases his girlfriend, provoking a break-up which will indeed leave a permanent mark on the main character's heart. It's outstanding how Berliac manages, in only 24 pages, to describe emotions in a very authentic way. The depiction of the Amazonian rainforest and its natives is also beautiful, with changing graphic techniques that alternate red, black, and green tones, elevating the work of an author to absolutely keep an eye on. 

Crater Lake by Jean de Wet, the mini kuš! #20, is a book without words and made of thin blue lines on a white background. The figures and the objects are empty but improved with the constant use of lines and points, as the author's style was a monochromatic pointillisme, characterized by the fascination for details rather than for the colors. The images tell the reaction of a little lacustrine village located in a volcanic crater after a cosmic event, probably a meteorite rain, while a strange unidentified object flies in the sky. The space-time references are rather ambiguous, but this isn't important, since de Wet guides the reader in a different world, giving him the sensation of the smallness of man against nature, as painters, poets and philosophers have done in the past. Absolutely charming.

The mini kuš! #21, Jungle Night, is also set in a little community, in this case near a jungle. The Polish Renata Gąsiorowska uses a fairy-like tone and her gracious drawings are associated with the diary of Lili, the animal girl who, during a night in the jungle with her schoolmates, walks away leaving no trace. Lili watches her "friends" playing and having fun but she can't do the same. She tries to drink but alcohol doesn't have the desired effect. So she thinks no one will ever notice her absence and for this reason, perhaps, it's better to disappear. Jungle Night is the story of every troubled teenager and has the merit of using lightness and simplicity to describe existential angst. The visual representation of the jungle is also remarkable, with a series of splash pages in which green is the dominant color.
Well, it's all for now but you can come back here in a few days for š! #15 review... Stay tuned!

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