Li'l Jormly by Christopher Sperandio (Mini Kus! #105)

This is a very wry look at our collective existence, or existential crises, as Li'l Jormly endures the three apocalypses of Climate Change! Atomic War! and A.I. Disaster! As he attempts to find his family, the book morphs into an interactive series of games and brain-teasers designed to emphasize the impossibility of his journey, all in a rough-hewn retro Sunday newsprint aesthetic. The games visually appear innocuous and playful, but are sarcastic and biting, sometimes with no viable outcome, or containing dreadfully pessimistic hidden messages like "Love Is A Fiction." If you're in the mood for delightful cynicism laced with insightful social commentary, as I usually am(!), then you should enjoy it immensely.


Shooting by Pedro Burgos (Mini Kus! #104)

Shooting uses an array of lean lines and languid figures to subtly examine how attitudes shift depending on our perspective, as well as thematic elements like commercialism and voyeuristic tendencies in our society. I particularly enjoyed the way Burgos depicts speech balloons, with open-ended tails that don't quite connect to the figures speaking the words. I'm not sure if this was a deliberate artistic choice, but it seemed to show how we are often times disconnected from our own thoughts, and merely inhabiting roles, going through the motions based on preconceived personas or external expectations. I also enjoyed the two-color approach, using cool blues for heavier elements like clothing, dark hair, and backgrounds, while using a beige/yellow to depict shadow, lighting on faces, and movement.


Grandad Reg by Patrick Wray & Clara Heathcock (Mini Kus! #103)

Grandad Reg contends with a universal theme present in the human condition, which is how to deal with loss, in both big gestural and small meaningful ways. The bright eye-catching colors match what feels like a larger than life personality. The creators are careful to show the passage of time, using clever things like a repeated panel/page right at the middle of the book that flows like a staccato double-page spread, emphasizing the repetitive nature of seemingly endless and indistinguishable days during COVID-19 lockdown. The most poignant moment for me was the realization of the protagonist that both the public rituals and private processing time can be valuable in considering loved ones, loss, and what it all means in the grand scheme of things, punctuated by small gestures or efforts to keep their memories alive.