Asthma by John Hankiewicz
If you ever wanted to try out John's comics but wanted to wait for something more substantial than his mini comics (or his giant regular issues), this is perfect for you. It contains pieces from old minis like Handbook, Martha Gregory and Dance, along with a couple of pieces that you may have seen in The Chicago Reader. Well, you may have seen it if you live in Chicago. For the rest of us, it might as well be new. John's comics have never been easy to review, mostly because so much of it is open to interpretation, and the bits that aren't are better appreciated seen than described by some yahoo like me. That being said, I am legally required to make a review more substantive than "reviewing is hard!", so I'll give it a shot. There is a series of silent pieces in here that may be my favorite thing John has done involving a little (although giant in perspective) girl, a house with two inquisitive arms, pipes oozing goo, a naked couple who slowly find clothes and explore their surroundings, and a series of four panel strips involving hands that always end in the rich, detailed hands being made into cartoon hands. I don't know why that image effected me the way it did, probably because John is so meticulous and detailed that simple images thrown into that can have a substantial effect. The jagged landscape (the ground is littered throughout these pieces with what appears to be broken glass), the waves of sound (unless they really are lightning bolts, they're mostly coming from what appears to be a speaker), and the interaction between all these players really comes together by the end. At least chunks of that story were in Handbook, maybe it took seeing them all together in this giant format for them to really hit me. Well, that's one piece (made up of a number of smaller pieces, granted) in this giant book, what else is here to be discovered? There the series of Dance pieces (which mostly have nothing to do with dancing), a set of silent pieces involving a man alone in a room with a rotating cast of objects, a story on betting, the Martha Gregory comics, a story of the train station his mother worked at when he was a child, and a personal story about Lot C. Yes, that's the simple version. Didn't I already make it clear that these things are best discovered on your own? This really is his most substantive work to date, and that's nothing to sneeze at when you consider the amount of detail he puts into everything he does. If you're scared of the price I do have minis here you can check out, but I recommend just diving in and going with this.
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