Man Made Lake by Aidan Koch (Mini Kus! #94)

Aidan Koch's big, bold, colorful figures bend and pose in large panels that are capable of eliciting strong emotional responses. Like standing before an oversized Mark Rothko painting, there are panels here that seem to focus on a solitary color or two, hitting immensely somber tones that prove "less is more." Koch's work has always seemed to be fascinated by the relationship between man and the natural world. While Man Made Lake is no exception to that oeuvre, it also introduces the idea that attempts to analyze meaning in a person, a statement, a book, or a work of art, or anything really, can sometimes subvert the very nature of the piece. Our attempts to understand something often undermine the very feeling it expresses, or dilute the raw intensity of the emotion it can provoke.


Pirate & Parrot by Lukas Weidinger (Mini Kus! #93)

Pirate & Parrot is an extremely colorful, near Day-Glo, aesthetic melange of sea-faring pirates, sea creatures, prostitutes, modern cops, and coke smugglers that somehow manages to do everything from funny anthropomorphism, to comment on the nature of friendship, to examine the mysterious duality of man. Weidinger's narrative climax seems to be Parrot swooping in to swiftly save his newfound friend, but in the wild not-quite-fourth-wall-breaking thematic climax, the self-referential characters comment about their mercurial motives. It's a reminder that we are all somewhat multifaceted; we are all capable of being the lecherous Pirate AND the benevolent Parrot simultaneously, depending on the context and the psychological drivers at play, and that's something to be celebrated, to revel in. Weidinger wisely uses interesting perspectives and camera placement to alter the POV of the audience, and to emphasize how context can be everything. The oppressors become the oppressed, power dynamics shift, and the type of energy you expend today may well be visited upon you in the future. 


Finnegans Wake by Nicolas Mahler (Mini Kus! #92)

Nicolas Mahler's visual adaptation of select passages from the eponymous (notorious?) James Joyce novel is challenging to parse, but is aided by the addition of a Mutt & Jeff inspired duo who are able to clarify some of the proceedings through their antics. With repeated readings, it's possible to pull meaning from the art and the devolved (hyper-evolved?) linguistic style. There are numerous catchy instances that grab your attention and feel like an intriguing foothold, such as the use of "Echoland,"and I particularly enjoyed the time-jumps, which seem to infer that the death of Finnegan is something of a recurring motif that comments on the very nature of life and death, or in answer to the elusive eternal questions of "What has gone?" and "How it ends?" the only answer can be "Forget, remember! Forget!"