Pallasvuo, Jaakko – Mirror Stage
As always, the temptation with a review for a mini kus book is to just post the snippet of text on the back of the comic and call it a day. That’s usually more succinct than what I do here, and often more descriptive. But what’s the fun in that? This is the story of an unsettled man who starts off his tale by talking about how he feels the most like himself while he’s traveling. From there we see how miserable he is at home, how he goes about an average day, and how he always feels like he’s waiting for something to happen, but has no idea what that might be. After a fair amount of self reflection, our hero discovers a talking mirror in his apartment. This mirror, at the very least, offers a change of pace from what our hero is used to, so eventually he accepts it as an agent of change and steps inside. Oh, didn’t I mention that the mirror was also a portal? Anyway, I’m getting into spoiler territory if I go even a little bit further, so I’ll leave the rest of it up to you. If you’re thinking “I’ve read dozens of ‘the author is existentially bored/unsettled stories'” and are wondering if there’s anything unique that this one brings to the table, yes, there is! I just can’t tell you here. It’s all about perspective and trying to learn the right lessons from the greats who came before. $6
Various Interational Comics – Kus! #8
Is the world ready for an anthology based on allotment gardening?Â Well, considering the fact that the world doesn’t seem to be ready for small press comics in general and it seems like a bit of a moot point, doesn’t it?Â Still, those of you reading this are probably inclined to give it a try, so don’t run away based on what seems like boring subject matter. The great thing about these anthologies is the wide range of colors, styles and cultural backgrounds, so at the very least you’re bound to find at least parts of this book gorgeous.Â That being said, honestly, to me the subject matter was often a little dull.Â Granted, this is a wildly creative group of people who took the subject into unexpected areas, but chunks of it didn’t do a lot for me.Â Highlights include Ruta Briede’s painted piece about a growing garden gnome, Sabine Moore’s hungry carrot, Malin Biller’s heartbreaking tale of family life contrasted with the happiness of vacations, Yoshi’s Garden Gnome Liberation Front, Irkus Zeberio and Hitler’s doubles, James Turek with some useful advice for long-distance murdering, and Lai Tat Tat Wing’s cautionary tale of the future. The highlight of the comic was again the manga portion by Hironori Kikucki, as he drifted off while contemplating the subject matter and came up with something completely different and fantastic.Â I’m guessing the translating errors are unintentional, but they add an extra layer of funny to the whole thing.Â According to his bio he mostly does stories for teenagers, but he should really consider branching out into the small press world where he can get creative.Â All told it’s far from an awful anthology, but I wouldn’t list it as one of the greats either.Â If you’re looking to explore the international world of comics this is a great place to get a number of names and contact information, if you’re already a regular reader of this series this is the one I’ve seen so far that you could maybe get away with skipping.Â Then again, it’s only $8 for 111 colorful pages, so it’s up to you.