There’s no adequate way to describe the contents of Canadian cartoonist/fine artist/musician Andrea Lukic’s latest Journal Of Smack (she self-publishes one of these every year or thereabouts) without reaching deep into the stores of one’s own vocabulary and dusting off any number of little-used gems grown atrophied and covered in cobwebs. I determined I was going to resist the urge to go down that road and concentrate on immediate, visceral impressions, but we’ll see how well I do holding to that vow. If you hear me using terms like “abstract singularity” or somesuch, you’ll know I failed.
And with that, it’s down to business —
Lukic’s book has all the aesthetics of a “found object,” its pages somewhat-unevenly glued within one of those cheap DIY quasi-“bindings,” and that’s as it should be : it looks and feels old, haphazard, random. Where does one find something like this? I dunno, but my mind conjured up images of a party at the home of someone you’ve never met (say, the friend of a friend of a friend) — you’re down in the basement to get away from the noise and/or walk around in circles to fend off tomorrow morning’s inevitable hangover, except it’s already tomorrow, maybe 4:00 A.M., and it’s actually not that noisy anymore, most people left an hour or two ago, but your goddamn friends you came with are still talking to people you don’t know about other people you don’t know, and the basement is finished, but most definitely not updated, it’s got that 1970s shag green (or maybe orange, or brown) carpeting and fake wood paneling and no one comes down here much but there’s an old-school TV and a fraying, threadbare couch and midway between the two there’s a coffee table with beer can “ring” stains all over it that have been there who knows how long and — hey, what’s this here laying on said table?
At first glance it appears to be a mimeographed illustrated story about a vampire (though the “creature”/person is never explicitly labeled as such), rich with Gothic atmosphere, yet oddly contemporary at times. Is it a linear narrative? Fuck, even if you hadn’t been drinking all night it would be hard to tell. It seems to circle back in on itself a lot, and that would be true even if a couple of the pages weren’t exactly the same (once on red paper, once on the standard yellowish-white of the rest of the book). There’s a rhythmic quality to it, maybe even a tempo, but it’s difficult to strain your ears enough to hear it. Maybe it’s more a — faint murmur? Yeah, let’s go with that.
You look around the room for a moment and see what looks to be a couple of pages torn from another (older?) publication by, apparently, the same artist. They look like this :
Yeah, they probably are older, but not by much. Still, even half in the bag, the stylistic evolution is unmistakable : the detail, the intense linework, the hyper-delineated definition have always been there, but this one you’re holding in your hands, here in 2018 — it looks like the product of another time, another place, maybe another dimension. The vaguely psychedelic emanations given off by those older, random pages are subsumed under something else, call it a current of steady unease, as deliberately caricatured faces give way to those that are hideous by their nature, their design — creatures born of cold nights, colder hearts, and coldest-of-all graves. Linear time, mortality, the finite — all left in the conceptual dust by this cartoonist, this Andrea Lukic, as she bobs and weaves between semi-standard comic book layouts, full-page “splash” images, even what appear to be preliminary character sketches. Is there meaning to be discerned from this? Order hidden within what at first glance appears to be — okay, maybe not chaos, but at the very least damn random ?
There’s a record laying on the couch from a band you’re unfamiliar with. The cover looks like this :
Same artist again. Gotta be. You can just tell. And some of the mood and sensibility of this cover is apparent as all hell in this “comic” (or whatever it is) you’re holding. Both are ghostly. Ethereal. Transitory. Impermanent. Yet, somehow, also frozen in place, in time, richly expressive in the extreme. You could put this ‘zine, this Journal Of Smack, down. Go back upstairs. Walk away from it forever. But those frozen moments it captures? They, in turn, have captured you. Burrowed their way inside without even breaking a sweat. They’re part of you now. And there’s no getting away from that — even if you’re still not entirely sure what they’re all about. The story they tell transcends mere description, maybe even interpretation. But it’s not just something you’ve seen, something you’ve read, something you’ve experienced. Not anymore. It’s far too late to put this behind you, to remain unaffected, to go on with life as it was.
You tuck the ‘zine under your arm, head back up to meet your friends, and know, finally, why you came here tonight.
The 2018 edition of Andrea Lukic’s Journal Of Smack is available from our friends at Domino Books (where else?) for $10. Order it here, and prepare for your life to be changed in ways subtle, profound, and entirely inexplicable :http://dominobooks.org/journalsmack2018.html