La fleur au fusil by Pia-Melissa Laroche (Mini Kus! #110)

Laroche offers a wordless tale in La fleur au fusil that reminds us to sometimes just put forth energy into the world, and see what happens, even if a desired outcome seems improbable, untenable, or outright impossible. The cavalier energy that's created is unpredictable, and life has a certain chaos magic that can be revisited upon the originator in unexpected ways. As our young archer learns, targets may be more difficult than anticipated, new allies may materialize, and our tools of choice can change through acquired knowledge, all yielding unforeseen positive results. As the narrative unfurls almost like a side-scrolling 1980's video game, we learn that the outcomes we often covet cannot be specifically planned, we must simply surrender to the pull of life with the confident and carefree energy of the title, and patiently await for our path to emerge.


Jumping Things by Klara Zahradkova (Mini Kus! #109)

Jumping Things is, at times, a challenging work that centers on how easy it is to feel lost in the modern era. We're all inhabiting worlds, whether realistic or fanciful, and those worlds, or lives that we create for ourselves, are really only limited by our own imagination. It's about reconciling the divide between what our heads think and what our hearts want, and I think the disembodied head that joins our protagonist is a stand-in for that aspect of her psyche. Zahradkova uses pale ink and line weights that are affable and engaging, designs which pull the reader in, causing us to consider other worlds and lifestyles that we might also inhabit. Our minds may logically know that we sometimes need a healthy change, but our hearts sometimes lag in catching up and arriving at the same full-bodied conclusion. It doesn't matter if it's a fanciful journey to the stars like we see in the end of the book, or a more grounded life change, as we're reminded - the connection is what's important - and only our hearts can truly feel that.


The Apartment by Joana Mosi (Mini Kus! #108)

The Apartment is probably one of the best books of the year, expertly controlling the color palette to not only set scenes, but depict mood, and show gradual changes in narrative familiarity from acceptance, to annoyance, to resentment. When two people occupy the same spaces for long periods of time, things can happen, growth and learning stall and accelerate, attitudes are informed by different stressors, support is offered or withdrawn, and our willingness to engage can wither. Do we mask our true feelings after so much time invested, or find the courage to discontinue an established process? The Apartment is deceptive in that the arguments we share are rarely about their superficial trappings, i.e., which apartment is better? or what stuff do we occupy it with?, and are usually fueled by a deeper context of unhappiness.


I Miss You So Much by Nhozagri (Mini Kus! #107)

I Miss You So Much contends with the titular longing between two separates entities. Despite our best efforts, it showcases how difficult it can be to simply be within proximity of a loved one with so many barriers and obstacles that society can impose upon us. Through the use of ink washes and/or watercolors, actions like kissing raindrops or "the sound of wet" highlight inanimate objects infused with human-like sensory experiences. It's hard not to be moved by Nhozagri's apparent belief in the hopeful or optimistic; after an arduous journey that crescendos to a denouement of the characters embracing and claiming "i found you finally," we learn that, occasionally, there are indeed stories of happily ever after.


Dawn of The Living Dead Near Kotka Morgue by Marko Turunen (Mini Kus! #106)

Our protagonist navigates what looks like a surreal hellscape, filled with maroon skies, somber blue nights, and fiery anthropomorphized creatures dotting the horizon. It's all a stark reminder that we are ALL aliens in some sense, perpetual outsiders attempting to belong, conform, or befriend. Katka Morgue has some vaguely familiar trappings of a city or neighborhood inhabited by people attempting to carry on with their rote tasks during a pandemic, but it amps up the paranoia to a hard extreme to see what the logical outcome might look like, and it's rather shocking, not unlike the large cat sitting in a Hindu godlike posture with an erect lipstick penis(!). This is one of the better pandemic-inspired comics I've read in the last couple of years.