As we wrap up Kus! week here in this musty, largely-hidden corner of the blogosphere (does anyone use that term anymore?), I thought I’d avail myself of the opportunity to shed and/or shine some light on a couple favorite Mini Kus! releases from recent years that haven’t received write-ups from yours truly in the past. So, I guess I might be making up for an egregious oversight or two on my part before we put this “theme week” to bed. First up : Yvan Guillo/Samplerman’s Bad Ball, #54 in the Mini Kus! line.
For those unfamiliar with Samplerman’s modus operandi/shtick, he “remixes” extant public domain comics panels — mostly from the so-called “Golden Age” — by digitally manipulating the drawings in various creative ways, inserting some of his own computer-generated (I’m assuming) images, and then shaking the whole thing up in a kaleidoscope and seeing what comes of it all.
I’m making that last part up, of course, but the results are more or less along those lines. And while some of the pages and panels are more successfully-realized than others, it’s no reach to say that they’re all interesting.
In Bad Ball, Samplerman utilizes a standard 2×3 grid to chronicle the exploits of his titular ball, a kind of sentient Silly Putty blob that can pretty much assume any shape, do anything, and end up anywhere. Hijinks ensue — as you’d (correctly, in this case) assume them to, and the retro “comedy of errors” tone brings to mind the sort of Three Stooges/Laurel and Hardy slapstick stuff that was popular concurrently with the comics that are appropriated herein. As far as self-realization goes, then, Bad Ball is in possession of it in spades : this is a very specific sort of work constructed according to a specific (if endlessly surprising) method in order to achieve a specific result. Which is probably a tougher thing to pull off than it sounds.
I’m of a mind that the best way to take a work like this in is fast and furious — it’s a quick read, and lends itself best to a sort of “what the fuck was I just exposed to?” sort of interpretation, its full impact, which isn’t inconsiderable, washing over you afterwards. A detailed examination of each image is a worthwhile task to apply yourself to, don’t get me wrong, but it’s designed with immediacy in mind, and you cheat yourself out of that by poring over the contents on offer with a fine-toothed comb on first pass-through. I recommend resisting that urge until you open it a second time — even if that second time is right after the first, which it likely will be.
So yeah, much as a certain segment of my readership might be allergic to such a thing on even a conceptual level, this is first and foremost a fun comic, but it’s a fun comic that is in no way disposable, and rewards re-examination once it’s been powered through in short order. Samplerman’s work lends itself well to the mini format, and even if you think clever and inventive gimmicks are a weak foundation to build something upon, give this one a whirl — you only think it’s too slight and “surface level” for your high-fallutin’ standards.
Bad Ball is available for $6 (with free worldwide shipping!) from the publisher at http://www.komikss.lv/
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