Blog Archives

Kikuchi, Hironori – House to House

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House to House

This is one of those times when the synopsis on the back cover was a lifesaver, as it revealed a key fact that I somehow missed. Was it obvious in hindsight, or even regular sight? You bet! I missed it anyway. This is a silent tale from an old favorite; Hironori is on this website in a couple of anthologies, but a clear sign of my opinion of him at the time is that I used his stories for sample images for each comic. Anyway, this is the story of a young boy who sets out to visit the house down the street. He is joined by the kid (?) on the cover, they stick around for coffee and doughnuts, and finally agree to bring a book to another house up the hill. This particular house gave me Jim Woodring flashbacks, and I only mean that in the best possible way. The intended recipient is sick (or possibly just sleeping? These are the ambiguities that come from a silent comic), but they manage to deliver the book, and I should probably stop describing the story now, because there’s not much of it left. His art style is adorable while still being vaguely unsettling, which is not an easy line to walk. Yep, the conclusion is inescapable: it’s another winner from the fine folks at mini kus. They should really put out a stinker just to keep me on my toes… $6

Lukosus, Rebeka – Oops

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Oops

Well, it’s finally happened. In hindsight, it was bound to happen sooner or later with the mini kus books. As somebody who’s supposed to have something to say about all comics great and small, I find myself… speechless. Here, I’ll give you the synopsis on the back cover (always worth a look): “What happens if you are bored, live alone, have six arms and a magical imagination?” What follows is a wordless story depicting just that, with a finale that clarifies the meaning of the title. The images were often hypnotic; the undulating of her six arms reminded me of watching a spider or an insect with many legs walking around. Baffling as it may seem to those of us with two arms and two legs, having all those limbs would be natural if you had them your whole life, and Rebeka did a masterful job of conveying that impression here. Is it worth a look even if I’m more or less stumped? Absolutely! It’s a mini kus book, and I get the feeling that conclusion is going to pop into my brain at an unexpected moment in the future. $6

Puiupo, Paula – Maunder

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Maunder

Once again, it’s taking all I have not to just paste the synopsis on the back of the book here instead of writing a proper review. When you pick up these mini kus books, don’t sleep on those synopses; each one of them is a work of art. And yes, I’m just assuming that you’re buying some of these books, because why wouldn’t you? Bright, vibrant tales of all sorts from all over the world? Seems like an obvious buy to me. Oh right, the comic. This one’s a little bit autobiographical, in that it starts with our author telling the reader about a heart condition of her mother, which also ended up being the same heart condition of her sister. From there things get more than a little bit abstract, as she wonders about the ability to communicate with someone who has already gone, and whether or not what’s stopping us is our own stubborn perception of only three dimensions. The images, before and after the story takes this turn, are captivating, full of details that come together more fully as you take in more of the story. Perhaps this should be an autofill comment on my part by now, but my repeating it doesn’t make it any less true: this is another triumph from the mini kus folks. Give them money so they can keep this up! $6

Socal, Alice – Junior

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Junior

Maybe you’re one of what must be very few people in the world who saw that title and thought “huh, I wonder if it’s referring to the Arnold Schwarzenegger of the same name.” Yep! Good job, you! I’m also sorry that you sat through that movie at some point in your life. Still, as this is a mini kus book, it’s not like it’s a straight adaptation of the movie, or even that it has much to do with it. Things start off with a couple in bed together, with the woman trying to get the man to feel the movement in her pregnant belly. He can’t seem to get the timing right so he can’t feel anything, she goes back to sleep and he decides that he wants to more fully experience what she’s going through. The rest of the comic deals with his efforts in this area. These efforts are adorable at times, but they’re not without the barest hint of tragedy. How did Arnold have that baby in Junior anyway? Yeesh, maybe it’s best not to think about it. Meanwhile, this is yet another winner from the mini kus pile. $6

Cong, Yan – UNIQLO Superman

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UNIQLO Superman

It’s a rare mini kus with two stories inside! The bulk of the book is taken up by the mostly wordless cover story. A strange naked man (or maybe I’m assuming he’s strange because he’s naked) walks into a UNIQLO clothing store and methodically goes through his various options. Do you think he puts on clothing as he goes or does it all at once? You’ll never know unless you read the comic! It’s a very bizarre tale, but any doubts I might have had about it were dispelled by one of the better punchlines that I’ve seen in ages. The next story is completely different and deals with the love between a frog man and a woman. Um, a normal woman. I think. Anyway, some quiet tension is obvious, and the frog man is metaphorically keeping himself at arm’s length from his wife. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Read it and see! Or read it and make your own conclusions, because sometimes relationships just fade away and nobody is at fault, whether frog or human. Big shocker, but it’s another solid mini kus comic. Pretty sure they’ll be responsible for world peace if they make it to #100 and still have this high of a ratio of quality books. No pressure! $6

Wang, Inkee – Special K

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Special K

OK, this is going to be one of those cases where I can’t talk about the comic without getting into some major spoilers, so be forewarned. Granted, the synopsis on the back cover had the same spoilers, but you can’t see that here, so that doesn’t count. If you’re looking for a suggestion only, well, it’s a mini kus book, and my love for their ingenuity, creativity and uniqueness is well established at this point, so yeah, you should check it out. This is the story of Special K, the avatar of a teenager in a popular online shooting game. He’s the best player in the game by far; people from all over the world watch his livestream and will log in just in the hopes of getting killed by him. I should mention here that hundreds (if not thousands) of people make a living from other people watching them play video games online, and that I still can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that there’s such a huge market of people who simply want to watch others play video games. But hey, they’re rich and I’m not, so what do I know. Anyway, most of the first half of the book establishes this kid and his character, some of his more heroic exploits in the game, and sets him up as a giant superstar. He’s eventually discovered to have cheated but, as is the norm in the world of the internet, nobody is quite sure where the allegations started or whether or not they’re even true, but he’s still chased out of the game, taking away the main draw of the thing. The images of the end of the story are downright beautiful, as the vast online killing field is deserted once their hero is gone, leaving only a few diehards who end up in a peaceful online field. There’s insightful commentary here on the fad of being an internet celebrity and how quickly it can all vanish, how ephemeral the cults around these people can be, and even a few cool little battle sequences if that’s all you’re here for. It’s another great book from the fine folks at mini kus, in other words. $6

Fenta – Beyond a Cure

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Beyond a Cure

Do you have any idea how tempting it is to just put the synopsis from the back of the comic in the place of a proper review and call it a day? As always, it’s succinct, and it manages to say nothing and everything at the same time. Instead I get to ramble on for a few hundred words in the hopes of making a different kind of sense of it. Oh, woe is the fate of the random internet comics reviewer! In the case the sarcasm there wasn’t crystal clear… yeah, sarcasm. Hey look everybody, it’s a new issue of mini kus! #72, to be exact, and I can only hope that when they reach #100 their plan for world domination will be complete. This is the story of two brothers… or two aspects of the same person… or possibly just two guys who know each other? Yep, I’ve got this one nailed down. One of the brothers is sick and has decided to end it all, and has already dug a hole in the backyard for his body. All his other brother has to do is come over at the appointed time and bury him. While the healthy brother is contemplating this state of affairs he has visions of the past, or possibly prophetic visions. When the time is right he comes over to bury his brother… but the visions don’t stop, and what exactly happened is very much open to interpretation. It’s the sense of a half-remembered dream put on paper, with a pervasive sense of foreboding and hopelessness throughout. In other words, it’s another completely unique story to add to the mini kus collection. $6

Ganmu – Doghair

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Doghair

Oh mini kus, don’t ever change. This is another selection in their series (#71, for those keeping track of such things) and this time around the story deals with a young man and his dog. Dogs. It’s not entirely clear if both dogs are his, but it’s not particularly relevant. He only has eyes for the dogs, which leads to a bit of trouble at home. His wife (or roommate, although the implication is definitely wife) berates him over dinner and then leaves the house, but his concern is still for the dogs, failing to notice that she’s spending less and less time at home. Finally he looks out the window and sees his wife, while walking the dog, talking to another man in the street. Naturally, this causes him to spring into action… and you’ll have to read the comic to see what happens next. This is mostly wordless, so the glances and body language are doing most of the work. It’s occasionally haunting and the ending is grim, in a “Boy and his Dog” sort of way. See, if you know what I’m talking about that is a bit of a spoiler. Hooray for your literacy! $6

Vilma Vitina, Lote -Worms, Clouds, Everything

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Worms, Clouds, Everything

This one starts off in a thoroughly charming fashion, with us looking at an empty stool. Our narrator then enters from off the page, addressing the reader throughout. If you’re wondering about the topic, it is given away on the cover, just not in the title: it’s mushrooms. Our narrator is obsessed with them, and the highlights of his life are when he’s wandering through the fields and finds a bunch of them in one place. He may have his problems the rest of the time, but this is when all is right with the world. Maybe this is the secret of happiness for everybody? As long as you have your version of mushrooms in your life, the one thing that brings you absolute joy, everything else can fall into place. Our narrator is a hermit, doesn’t seem to get much if any contact with the outside world, but it seems like he wouldn’t have it any other way. Give this book a shot if you’ve ever felt any existential sadness, as it appears to have the solution for such a problem inside. $6

Krause, Marlene – Maud

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Maud

Oh these mini kus books, they do keep you guessing. Just when you get used to the idea of them mostly being abstract journeys where everything is open to interpretation, along comes a comic that’s almost a straight up biography. The story starts in 1908 with a young woman getting an official portrait done. As she removes her coat, the portrait artist can’t help but be a little shocked by the tattoos that this reveals. From here we bounce back a couple of years to see how this all came about, and from there we see snippets of her life as she becomes one of the most accomplished tattoo artists in the world (although she’s overshadowed by her husband, mostly due to the era she was living in) and raises a daughter who she has forbidden from getting any tattoos. Marlene spends some real time showing how they fell in love with each other, and it’s beautifully done in two two-page spreads, presented as conversations between people who are growing increasingly comfortable with each other. It’s a fascinating story, and another triumph for a mini kus company that can seemingly do no wrong when it comes to comics. $6

Kvam, Erlend Peder – Weekend

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Weekend

How can something with this many vibrant colors be this nightmarish? Eh, maybe it’s just me. This is all about the weekend, after all, which is the happiest time of the week. What horrors could possibly be mined out of such a thing? This is the story of a man who loves his job a whole bunch, but we meet him right as work is getting out and his weekend is beginning. Upon arriving at his home he sends out a smoke signal to his children, asking what they’d like to have for dinner. Suddenly filled with purpose, a messenger bird delivers their answer, and the children return home from their wanderings. The kids have dinner, the father heads out to the gym, and upon his return to the home he’s shown art projects from each of his children. He steels himself to keep an open mind, and this is about where I have to check out to avoid spoilers. Yes, I’m avoiding giving away the reactions of a fictional father to the art projects of his fictional children, and in this context I feel pretty good about not giving away anything further. How the mini kus folks have managed to maintain this level of quality and originality for 70 issues (as of this writing, anyway) is beyond me, but we’re all lucky that they do. $6

Pita, Mariana – Day Tour

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Day Tour

This is #67 of the mini kus books. I mentioned the issue number a few times back in the day but stopped, mostly because every issue has a different writer/artist. Is there another anthology series of comics that you can think of that’s been this successful? Granted, “successful” is a relative term in this field (I’m guessing everyone who’s put out one of these books didn’t receive a small island as payment), but still, kudos to the folks who run this project. Meanwhile, what about this particular comic? This is the story of a young woman who is called a hero by somebody she barely knows on social media. Her talking dog calls her out on this, saying that she’s no hero and that the social media person wasn’t even real. She is determined to prove her heroism, and happens across an ad online for giving blood. Seeing a good and easy way to become a hero, she sets off to give some blood, which naturally isn’t as simple as it sounds, or there wouldn’t be much of a comic, now would there? We get to see the whole grand adventure of getting to the blood clinic, what happens when she gets there, and the side journey of her dog just trying to find a good spot to watch the football game. The watercolor art of Mariana is gorgeous; mini kus putting these comics out in full color really pays off with this issue. Give this comic a shot, come along on a grand yet mundane adventure. And check your back issues to see how many issues of mini kus comics you have. That’s what I’m going to do one of these days… $6

Muradov, Roman – Resident Lover

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Resident Lover

Sometimes comics leave me feeling a certain way, and I’m never quite sure if that’s the intent of the artist or if it’s just what the comics brings out of me personally. Maybe somebody else reading this would come away feeling something else entirely, but for me when I set down this book a wave of melancholy hit me. The comic feels a bit like a dream, like the details might change if I were to go back and read it again. Not possible, granted, but we’re talking feelings here, not physical reality. This is the story of a young man who sets out with his lover, his former lover and her current lover. They all get to talking, and another former lover down the line was supposed to be good at bocce, but since the star of the comic had never heard of him, this set off an argument that led to him getting out of the car and leaving them to go on their way. Meanwhile, it left our hero alone in the dark at 3am, in the wilderness and surrounded by things that he was allergic to. He wandered until he made his way to a department store, and the surreal nature of the place led him to go up to the roof. The roof was covered in thousands of tiny candles, which led back to the story of the two women who put the candles up there every night, why they do it and how they came to that place at all. Which I’d rather not get into here, to preserve at least a little bit of mystery, but this really feels like one of those comics where you could know everything about it going in and still get plenty out of it. Check it out, and if you end up feeling anything other than melancholy when you’re done, let me know. Who knows what’s all in my head and what’s left over from a previous lovers’ quarrel? $6

Sousa Lobo, Francisco – Master Song

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Master Song

Hey, who’s up for a comic that’s done entirely in verse? Wait, come back, it’s actually thoroughly engaging! This is the story of a young lady who’s just trying to live her life. Her life happens to be that of a sub who’s trying to find dominant men but unsure on how to go about it, and her life is also her being antisemitic while caring for Jewish children as a nanny. As far as antisemitics go she’s pretty self-aware about her issues, she even keeps a diary where she spells everything out. She’s also terrified of anybody seeing her diary, which makes sense. The overwhelming sense I got from this story was that M was an incredibly sad person; every aspect of her life seems like at least a little bit of a struggle. Still, it’s hard not to root for the lady, which is a little odd when you consider her (at the very least) mild racism. Maybe it was the rhyming that made her impossible to dislike? Or maybe it’s just the fact that it’s hard not to relate to anybody who’s in such a struggle to get by every day. Check it out, wrestle with your own moral dilemmas, it’s not like I can solve all the moral conundrums of the universe all by myself. $6

Franz, Pedro – Collection

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Collection

So I’ve said before that I could just post the synopsis on the back of these mini kus books and have that serve as the review, but this time around it’s actually relevant to the content of the comic. “In 1975, Mexican artist Ulises Carrion founded Other Books and So, a bookshop gallery in Amsterdam that received, distributed, sold and exhibited artists’ publications and ephemera in many different formats. This collection is inspired by the bookshop.” See? Pretty relevant to the comic, wouldn’t you say? I didn’t read this before reading the comic (I never read the synopsis before reading a book/comic, and shame on you if you do), so I wasn’t working with that information when I was first forming an opinion. On the surface this book is a series of stories about scars and accidents of varying severity, but after seeing the blurb on the back the whole thing came together for me. Outside of those tales of injuries were also a few bits about rearranging 50 books on the floor in the hopes of getting an undefinable “something” out of it, a series of conversational statements by unknown speakers, and a damaged photograph that still retained the most important elements of it. It all comes together to form a really compelling comic, and adds another distant location to my list of places I’d like to visit one of these days. For anybody out there who thinks that some of these mini kus books are too short to really dig into, give this one a shot. There’s plenty to ponder here. $6

Diaz, Abraham – Nausea

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Nausea

Once again, I’m tempted to just use the synopsis from the back of the comic as a review, but that’s still cheating, so I won’t do it. This comic is the nightmare version of Mexico City (or at least I hope it is), and it’s one the seediest things you ever will see. The story follows three separate things: a man who picks up groceries for dinner with his daughter (and this disgusting walk home), a couple who meet out and steal some booze before going home together, and a couple of robbers who spend the evening getting themselves ready to rob a convenience store where the other two story tracks briefly came together. Abraham does a thorough job of making the city and everything in it seem disgusting; I  don’t think there was a single surface clean enough to eat off of in the whole comic. The father ran across horrors on his walk home and things weren’t much better when he actually got home, the couple really took in the sights before going home together, and the two robbers were so physically seedy that they almost made things around them seem slightly cleaner. So yes, in other words, I think this should be distributed far and wide as a tourist guide to anybody thinking of visiting Mexico City. Or if not, it’s also an unflinching look at some of the grosser aspects of society. $6

Van Sciver, Noah – His Last Comic

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His Last Comic

For those of you who are literal by nature, don’t fret! This isn’t actually Noah’s last comic. Or maybe it is and he just never told anybody; guess we’ll have to wait and see on that one, huh? This is also a mini kus book, in case that wasn’t obvious from the tiny blurb on the cover. Things start off with a fictional comic book artist who’s vowing that the current comic he’s making is the last one he’ll do, as nobody appreciates his work and he feels like he’s already wasted 20 years on this endeavor. Don’t be fooled, as this is not a Noah stand-in. This guy thinks the early days of Image comics, with things like Wildcats, Spawn and Youngblood were the cream of their crop, was the pinnacle as far as comics go. He’s spent his career trying to emulate those artists and is constantly baffled when regular people in his orbit don’t recognize his greatness. But along comes a witch in a magic potion shop to give him a potion labeled “desire.” He’s supposed to use this on himself to have the best month of his life, but in a fit of annoyance he pitches the potion into the ink machine at the printer for his comic. So this does lead to him finally being recognized, but once he sees why he’s being recognized he has to take a trip back to the witch to get everything sorted out. I’ll say no more, as there’s plenty more goodness to be had here, but any fans of Noah’s work already know that the man can basically do no wrong. Buy his books, if you’re not already doing so! This is mostly just a public service announcement to let you know that he’s put out a new book under a different publisher here, so don’t let it slip by you… $6

Koch, Aidan – Daughter

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Daughter

There’s an awful lot of information packed into this comic, and it’s almost entirely up to you to figure it all out. We start off by seeing some of the pictures drawn and painted by a young woman (the aforementioned “daughter”), lovely but innocuous images. To my eyes, anyway; to her father the images she’s making are baffling and seem to annoy him on a personal level. As the story unfolds we see that the family is part of a group of people who are on this planet, but that the images she’s drawing are not on this planet, meaning she’s had no way to ever see them for herself. Her answer for where she sees these images are unsatisfactory to her father, and the story continues with us seeing more of their drab life here, suffused as it is with the weight of their importance in the universe as the last of the humans, people who were chosen for this assignment. Still, art and color is a part of her life, even if the people around her can’t appreciate it. Am I starting to write like one of the synopsis on the back of these mini kus books? It’s possible, though unintentional. There’s a lot to dig into here, so give it a look! $6

Niewiadomski, Tomasz – Jonah 2017

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Jonah 2017

For a minute there I thought this was going to be another one of those wordless minis that left me more or less baffled, but then the talking started to bail me out. What can I say, it’s tricky to depict time travel without words. Um, spoilers. On the first page alone there’s a man in a fish, a talking octopus (who is talking about robots), five skulls, a talking crab (who is talking about an hourglass), a robot (standing next to the hourglass), and a robot in a different location next to a grandfather clock. That’s your introduction to this world, and in a lot of ways it would probably be better for you if that’s all you knew about this story. So if that’s all the convincing you need, get yourself to an online ordering station, you’re done here. For the rest of you, from there we see an elaborate tunnel structure (that may or may not be alive), a winged cat lady and a strange box that gets dumped into the ocean. Another man goes looking for the box (while also looking for types of fish for a menu, apparently), goes through a time portal of some kind and starts seeing stuff that’s even stranger. Yeah, that’s all you get for this one. I could go on, but I’m looking out for you here, OK? Surprises are hard enough to come by in this world, why ruin one that is as delightful as this? $6

Bulling, Paula & Hoffmann, Nina – Share the Love

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Share the Love

If I ever manage to collect all the time in the world, I should really go back through these mini kus books and rank them somehow. 60+ issues in, I don’t think there’s a really terrible one in the bunch, and the vast majority are amazing in one way or another. This time around we get a series of conversations of snippets of dialogue, mostly dealing with relationships or how somebody sees the world. There’s an older man who talks to a couple about his past (while throwing in some casual racism, which seems to be mandatory in elderly storytellers who impose themselves on people), a couple on a date and the unfortunate test that the lady offers to the man to show his interest level, another couple where one is happy to settle in and the other wishes for more, and a child with an older woman going swimming together (and the brutal honesty that comes from the child in her direction). There’s a lot of wisdom in this one about a variety of subjects, so on the off chance that new mini kus books aren’t an automatic purchase for you at this point (they should be), this is one that’s definitely worth a look. $6