Kevin Hooyman, of Conditions On The Ground renown, is a perfect choice for the Mini Kus! line — well-established as it is for providing a venue for individualistic, even idiosyncratic, artists to tell short-form stories (assuming they decide to even tell “stories” at all) — and his newly-released mini presented under the imprint’s imprimatur (okay, that was a bit redundant), Elemental Stars, may be #82 in the series, but damn if it won’t quickly become #1 in your heart.
In a dull pastel world populated by anthropomorphic animals/people/aliens/does it really even matter?, a group of neighbors that may or may not be actual “friends” search for the Crystal City that came to one one of them in dream — which may be no accident. Assuming such a city even exists, of course, and that is by no means a guaranteed proposition. But hey — the quest is the quest, amirite?
Oh, but this is a thing of beauty, And charm. And wonder. And joy. In relatively equal proportion across the board. And my oh my how it all flows. Some comics just have “it,” even if you don’t really know what “it” is — nevertheless, you recognize a vacuum left by “its” absence, and know “it” when “it” is present and accounted for. Maybe “it’s” passion. Or purpose. Or both. And maybe — just maybe — “it’s” magic.
Grandiose as “it” — sorry, force of habit, we can lose the quotation marks now — may sound, I’m willing to roll with that in this case. Not since D.R.T.’s Qoberious have I been this thoroughly and immediately immersed in a hermetically-sealed alternate reality/non-reality that was so magnificently delineated and communicated, so eminently relatable yet altogether alien. One where the rules in no way apply, but where we seem to know them, intuitively, regardless. Could I go on and on? Oh, yes, I could. But could I do so without embarrassing myself? That’s highly debatable.
Still, what’s wrong with loving something — and loving everything about that something — and then gushing about it in public? When did that become “uncool” — and who decided that it was? I can’t be dispassionate about what Hooyman has achieved here, and don’t really feel compelled to pretend otherwise. This is a comic whose appeal is almost otherworldly in nature, and to quantify and categorize the exact nature of that appeal feels almost sacrilegious — to say nothing of being counter-productive in the extreme.
Which, hey, fair enough, may come across as little more than a grandiosely-worded complete abdication of my “responsibilities” as a critic, but all I can offer in my likely-meager defense is that I promise you it’s anything but. The quiet and easy grandeur of Elemental Stars is simply something that’s better experienced than it is related, better read than it is read about. It eschews detailed analysis — not that I don’t expect other critics to proffer it aplenty — by existing outside and apart from it, sure, but also by not really needing it in the first place. Which, in a just and proper world, would exhaust my italics quotient for one review, but in this one? You’re not out of the woods yet, I’m afraid. No way. Because before I wrap up here I really do need to let you know that I’m not recommending you read this comic — I’m flat-out imploring you to do so. Ain’t too proud to beg, sweet darlin’.
The six dollars you spend on Elemental Stars (free worldwide shipping included!) may just be the wisest expenditure you make all year. Order it from the publisher at http://www.komikss.lv/
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