For those who missed the last post, I had this dumb idea to shotgun some beers and some comic reviews along with them. Since the beers are in bottles, I'm not ~actually~ shotgunning them. So calm the fuck down. The reviews are also going slower than planned not because they are encased in glass that would cut my face off, but rather because I screwed up and set an aggressive cache policy that made my CMS look like I wasn't updating anything. Incidentally, I've started a post-vaporwave band called Aggressive Cache Policy.
I am pretty sure that what I am holding here is Patrick Kyle's New Comics #6. I say pretty sure because, as far as I can tell, the damn thing isn't numbered. The first number that I see is "19", which is the page numbering...
Of the first page.
I have Kyle's Everywhere Disappeared sitting on my shelf. I read a few sections of it and loved what I saw, but haven't had the time to sit down and give it the attention it deserved. I've also been meaning to write about his kuš mini, which really locked me in as a fan; but, that just happened to not be the one I grabbed out of my closet!
The ~closet~ books that haven't yet made it to the bookshelf were the books that I first bought out here in LA when I made a pilgrimage to Other Books, a lovely shop full of aggressively interesting zines, minis, and leftist literature (and vinyl!!) to boot. I'm at a point where it's really easy for me to know what I want to grab, and anything with offbeat geometric stuff is bordering on a sure thing.
There is something flowy about all of Kyle's work I've seen to date, and New Comics #6 is no different. A few characters wander about a rather jungle-y garden full of flora that ooze about the page and almost make the word "flora" feel like onomatopoeia to the reader. One of the reasons I like this melty quality to Kyle's art is that he often uses it to navigate more rigid spaces. And, really any space in his comics with any structure feels instantly overstated due to the stark contrast.
The rigidity of any straight lines is matched by the rigidity of the rules that comprise the the world of New Comics #6. Similar to something Michael DeForge does a lot, Kyle's characters will take time to become mytho-anthropologists of their strange world for the reader's benefit.
Traditional comics, in their form, clearly consider their duty to be to systematically deliver the happenings and rules of their world in clear, steady visual beats, ideally aiming for a seamless blend of picture and word, moving along their narrative rails, in parallel, comfortable behind the fourth wall.
Yet here, what makes Kyle's comics experimental is a strange division of labor wherein a visually lush, strange world is largely left up to the reader to interpret as characters stop, fully aware, to talk to the reader and explain rules that nobody could have ever inferred. Between the fact that the plot--however strange it might be--actually is moving somewhere and the fact that each page has a distinct, pervasive personality that is interesting in its own right, this deliberate one-two punch of separating narrative conventions of comics--as if ideas can stay visual while being separated like oil and water--is super cool. Yes, this is the descriptor I'm choosing.
This book is super cool.
Separating these visual narrative concerns and then jamming them back together in abstract at the end of this book elevates the whole work. As seen on the cover, a robot upon whom the state of the garden depends has anxiety and then descends through his various chambers to get some food. It's... strange that I'm able to comprehend that's what's happening in the closing pages of this book, as the robot, Rotodraw, descends through his chambers, one page at a time.
The overstatedness of straight lines, and even just of discernible shapes, comes to a head in this sequence, with otherwise delicate depictions of various simple half-machines feeling tight, lively, and--most surprisingly--sensible.