I just wanted to take some time to write about the comics I’ve been reading over the Easter holidays. I seem to spend a lot of time these days writing about them and making them- but almost never getting to sit down with a cuppa and actually read them!
So this last week I read “The Alchemy” from the Kabuki series by David Mack. They’re not new out or anything, but I’d never stumbled upon them before (idiot that I am).
This book has got to be one of the most beautiful and innovative comics in existence. Mack combines media, style, symbols and typography in layers of collaged meaning; the pages are not just beautiful to look at, they’re also incredibly smart. It’s actually difficult to pin down what exactly this book was about- it was basically about EVERYTHING. Science, history, politics, culture, the nature of ideas, of creativity, of happiness. It’s not surprising really, a glance in the back of the book reveals that he’s studied everything from children’s literature to acting to world history to the Japanese language. Impressive right!
The plot follows Kabuki and her struggle to redefine her identity and leave her past behind her, largely though her letters to the mysterious Akemi. That or it’s about David Mack himself trying to do exactly the same thing…
I’m a big fan of the kinds of comics that require a bit of decoding- I’m not sure if I’ll ever measure up enough to actually be able to make them for myself- but I really like “thinking too hard about things” comics (obvious example being Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli). This comic certainly gives you plenty to wrap your brain around; systems and symbols reoccur in ways you don’t expect and quickly substitute for backgrounds in way which I really like.
The part of the book I found most interesting was this about working what your calling or dream is: “Start by recalling what you liked to do a child… Around the age of 9 to 11… Think back to what you enjoyed before they squeezed you into a box of practically. Before they were minimized or channeled into a cookie cutter.”
I love this quote because it hits the nail on the head of why I think making comics for this age group is so important. This is when we’ve grown-up enough to be our own people, to be individuals, but still don’t know enough about the world to be trying to fit a mould. I was the most myself when I was 9. After that I think I was trying to be cool or deliberating trying to be uncool.
This is a pretty jumbled “review”. I’m out of practise with this blogging lark.