Flying way further below the radar than he deserves to, Denver-based Karl Christian Krumpholz is staking his claim to the territory marked “pre-eminent cartoonist depicting the realities of American urban life.” Which, admittedly, would be too long a title to fit on most plaques or awards. Nevertheless, it’s true, and now it’s my job to tell you why —
30 Miles Of Crazy! #7, the latest issue of Krumpholz’ self-published ongoing comic series, is quite possibly the strongest one to date, relating short-form stories of strippers, white-collar office functionaries, bartenders, transplants, and other real-as-that-stain-on-your-shirt folks with an elegantly simple dose of entirely unforced sympathy and a keen eye for authenticity in dialogue mostly missing from other monologue-driven narratives in any medium. The art is gritty but fluid, with strong emphasis on facial expressions, body language, and richly-detailed backgrounds. Krumpholz writes and draws the holy hell out of every panel, and it shows : this comic doesn’t just look “lived-in,” it feels “lived-in” — and you’ll want to spend part of your own time left living with it, as well.
Nothing But Suitcases presents the true — and truly harrowing — story of a woman who moves to Denver to take a new job, finds that said job has fallen through, and is very suddenly without a home for herself and her children. Welcome to the ugly reality of homelessness in America — namely, that it could happen to just about any of us, at any time, and it’s a fucking nightmare. Produced in conjunction with a pair of Denver “urban initiative”-type charitable non-profits, this is a pretty short comic, but nevertheless well worth the time and money.
The City Was Never Going To Let Go, presented in a unique horizontally-inclined format, is a collection of single-panel strips that cuts right to the heart of the themes explored in Krumpholz’ other, longer-form work that really give his lush, complex art a chance to shine, given each image is afforded a page unto itself to go about its visual storytelling business. Surprisingly substantive for what it is, anyone who digs this guy’s skills as a pure illustrator owes it to themselves to pick this one up.
— But We Wish You The Best Of Luck! is, essentially, “reject file” stuff, a collection of gag strips, drawings, and short tales of urban living that were, for whatever reason, passed on when submitted to various publications. Fair enough — for a good number of these you can understand why, but for a number of other very strong pieces of work presented herein, you’ve honestly gotta wonder why, because they’re really damn good. Probably the least cohesive of the books under our non-existent radar this week, it’s nevertheless an interesting publication for the hard-core Kumpholz fan on your list — or, ya know, for yourself — but don’t expect to be particularly challenged or enthralled by it if you’re not a completist collector of his work. I dug it, sure, but I’m not certain how many folks will find the whole thing terribly worthwhile. Could I be wrong? Absolutely. Does it mean I usually am? Absolutely not. But hey, you knew that already.
Krumpholz’ comics are available from a number of small-press distributors, but for my money the easiest place to find ’em all in one go is at Birdcage Bottom Books, so get thee over to https://birdcagebottombooks.com/collections/artist-krumpholz-karl-christian
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