Kinds of Blue Vol. 1 (Hive Mindedness)
When people talk about depression, when they try to help with depression, they invariably end up with something like Kinds of Blue: a well-meaning, expressive, demonstrative...lack of concrete dialogue. Part of this is the comic book format. Hey, I know from comic book format. What people generally call the graphic novel when they want to distinguish from superhero stories and the like usually comes with a certain vagueness. Anecdotal, spare...it's as if revealing too much would be a betrayal of the self. But then what's the point? The epitome of this kind of storytelling is Harvey Pekar, the late curmudgeon made famous by the film American Splendor. So what it amounts to is sounding like you're complaining about everything, and admitting that there aren't any answers, that the world sucks and you just have to deal with it, or that you'll find a kind of happiness if you'll just look...
Listen, if I sound like I'm taking the material personally, it's because I am. And overall it is good material, but it lacks anything but empathy. The problem, anyone who carries around with them existential discontent, to use another term, is not overly comforted by the notion that they're not alone. Or that one or two people may sympathize or will try and help them if and when they can. Depression is something of a modern invention. Life sucked a lot worse in times past. Depression, I think, is an acknowledgment that life isn't completely bad, but it could be a lot better if only..., and it's the if only... that can never be addressed, because, well, life is in transition. And maybe humans really are getting better. But it happens in slow motion, and in the meantime...it sucks.
So my point is, instead of one or two people saying, "Hey! I realize you're having a tough time of it," it would perhaps be better if even whole pockets of a community could chip in. Think of it like the school social pecking order. You have the cool kids, and then you have the misfits who band together. But what about the misfits who are misfits even among misfits? This is what I'm talking about. Depression is like being that loner misfit. This is not addressed in Kinds of Blue. In fact, if there's a concrete criticism of it, it's that of any real information provided in the vignettes, it's that the creators are reasonably comfortable in their lives. It's just that they happen to be depressed.
I don't know. How do you help the misfit loner? How do you find that pocket of a community? Kinds of Blue has a vignette about enjoying movies. Escapism. The problem is, society always has demands. And maybe it's the demands that are the biggest cause of depression. Can't very well acknowledge that, however. Society depends on demands, even though we have so many people in the world, most of us have no practical use whatsoever. (And maybe that's another cause of depression, realizing that.) Maybe we just have to find better ways to make people feel useful. Wanted. Included. No matter how they prefer to exist.
Because not existing at all is way more daunting. That much Kinds of Blue nails.
Kung Fu Skratch! #1 (Adrian Engmann)
Yeah, um....Seems to be manga by way of white people. The art is manga, and the story is white people...The combination is bad enough, but this reaction is coming from someone who struggles to understand just manga itself, so white people only make it more complicated...All of this is to say, I am completely baffled...
Well, this one's pretty awesome. It's kind of a parody of all those other jungle girl comics, the ones meant squarely as cheesecake. But it's more like a humor comic than straight parody.
But other than the storytelling, the big draw for me is the art. I know Craig Rousseau from the pages of Impulse. If he hadn't had the thankless task of following Humberto Ramos and having a fairly similar style, I would've loved his art a lot more back then.
The thing is, today Rousseau looks very little like the Rousseau from Impulse. I'd say in terms of art evolution, it's a little like Dustin Nguyen's work from Batman: Streets of Gotham as compared to his more recent Descender. Sometimes you like artist consistency. And truthfully, I would've been plenty happy to see the Craig Rousseau from Impulse. But this Rousseau is more distinctive. And hopefully like Nguyen will get a project like Descender so that he can get the wide audience he deserves.
(Somewhat beside the point but totally relevant to Digitally Speaking..., I discovered in the new Previews catalog that Atomic Robo has found a new, more prominent home at IDW, starting in September. Very happy to see that. So long, obscure Red 5!)
None of which is to say Kyrra: Alien Jungle Girl can't be the project that shoots Rousseau into the stratosphere. Because from this material it definitely looks to be worth considerable attention. But this is also to say, if Kyrra remains obscure, now I'm definitely rooting for Craig Rousseau to find himself back in mainstream comics.