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Zutis, Martins – Crime at Babel


Crime at Babel

I have a confession to make: I don’t speak emoji. Sure, if I get a text with an emoji, I can make sense of it. Two in a row, yeah, probably. Three in a row? Getting dicey. Four in a row or more? Chances are I’ll be calling you for a translation. Why am I mentioning that here? Well, take a gander at that sample image below (most of the book is two page spreads, so I used one of those). Now, want to see me make a fool of myself? Here’s my best guess for what’s being said. First bubble: An explosion? Somebody ran off with a book? What time? Second bubble: A detective is coming by at noon. He is sad about the explosion, and thinks the book may have fallen down a hole or died. And… scene. See? I’m going to be no help at all here. Or maybe I nailed it? I’m guessing it’s the first option. Anyway, the back of the book calls this “a visual riddle, or rather a sudoku in comic form”. I’d have all kinds of trouble with a straightforward story being told in this fashion, but a riddle? For the second time this week, I’ll be leaving this mini kus book by my nightstand, hoping that if I pick it up after waking at odd hours I’ll be able to work my way through the mystery. Or maybe I’ll just ask a younger friend or two who are fluent in emojis what exactly is happening here. The possibilities are two! Oh, and one other thing I got from the back: somebody stole a book from the library and somebody killed a detective. Two mysteries! $7

Various Artists – Baltic Comics Magazine #11: Artventurous


Baltic Comics Magazine #11

Huzzah for international anthologies! Getting a comic from Latvia is a sure way to keep me fired up to write more reviews for another six months or so (international artists take note). One note right off the bat: it would probably be a good idea for them to put the title of their book on the cover. In this case “Artventurous” refers to art both being made and not made and the various adventures surrounding different types of art. Don’t get me wrong, that cover is going to grab your attention sitting on a shelf anyway, but that one descriptive word might have helped them pick up another reader or two who was too lazy to open the cover. Anyway, for me a 2/3 success rate is more than enough to recommend an anthology, and this one is closer to 4/5 fantastic/provocative/fascinating, which covers that spread quite nicely. Please note that I’m not going to talk about every single story in here (because then what would be left for you to discover?), but a full list of artists is down there in the tags below the review. My favorites from this boo include the closed loop story by Martins Zutis dealing with The Odyssey, the silent piece by KJ Martinet called “Ideal Form” (I don’t want to give away a bit more than that), the fantastically creepy “Leda” by Betty Liang, the mind-boggling amount of detail in “Necropolis” by Jean de Wet, Jen Rickert’s “The Loon” and its shifts between what is happening in the moment and the flashbacks from its murderous protagonist, Konig Lu Q’s simple (but not simplistic) extra commandments, Roman Muradov’s story that disintegrates into little pieces in the middle, the sheer adventurousness (and never discount the value of a giant robot yeti) of the Mikus Duncis story, the social horror of Olive Booger’s piece, the gleeful mayhem of Elina Braslina’s story, and the plausible paranoia of Dilraj Mann’s story. And this is all without me even mentioning Simon Moreton’s story (who, if you read this website at all, you know is a favorite of mine), which should tell you something about the overall quality of this anthology. Honestly, I should maybe even bump up that 4/5 quality estimate, as even the (many) stories I didn’t mention here usually had something going from them, between the vibrant splashes of color and the various social anxieties based on growing up around art or just trying to produce something of value when so much incredible stuff has already been produced. Pick it up if you get the chance, that’s what I’m saying, as it’s impressive that they’ve made it to #11 and they should shoot for many more. $13