In fairly short order, I’ve become convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt that Aussie Many Ord ranks right up there with the likes of Alison McCreesh and Eleanor Davis as one of the great “travelogue” cartoonists of our time, But whereas her previous globetrotting works concerned themselves with singular elements that tied the experiences together, with her 2019 self-published mini, Kyoto Pants Down, she take a different, and frankly more standard, approach, focusing on a set of general impressions of, and experiences set in, Kyoto, Japan. But hey — please don’t take “standard” to be at all synonymous with “dull.”
In point of fact, the narrative in this thick (52 pages!) little book book is as tight as Ord’s always-agreeable line is loose, and that balance between plotting/storytelling precision and fluid, organic art gives the comic a distinct vibe all its own, a flair and flavor that accentuates the “fish out of water” state of mind Ord was in without at any point resorting to any of the usual, tired cliches that “clash of cultures” stories almost always seem to fall back on. Thank goodness for that.
Besides, it’s not even a cultural “clash” that Ord’s delineating here so much as a wide-eyed exploration of parts unknown told from an innately curious point of view. If you’ve ever been anywhere else, like, at all, you’re likely to see some of what you were going through reflected herein, so this is an extremely effective and immersive comic, even if — like me — you’ve never set foot in Japan. Never figured I ever would, actually — although I’m certainly more intrigued at the prospect of doing so after having read this.
Another interesting thing to note with this one : whereas Ord’s Cold, Water, and Galapagos explicitly dealt in and with subjects that were — or at least could be — harrowing to one degree or another, this one doesn’t, and the result is a work that’s got a less tense feel to it. I’m always glad to see a cartoonist unafraid to step out of their comfort zone — even if their comfort zone is literally discomfort itself on a conceptual level — but there’s still no mistaking her own unique authorial voice and perspective. She’s branching out, then, but in no way compromising her vision in the process.
This is a funny comic, too, in case you were wondering, but in that kind of subtle way that relies on an artist’s observational skills to draw out and accentuate both differences and commonalities between people and situations. Everything is everyday, ordinary shit to someone, no matter how outside the norm it may appear to us, and Ord teases this simple fact out with a deft touch and an expressive line. You can’t help but be drawn into this world, but even more importantly, you can’t help but be drawn into the way that Ord sees, and subsequently relates to, this world.
You may think you’re too cool to give in to such a banal reaction to a work, but trust me when I say there’s nothing wrong with being utterly charmed, and temporarily enthralled, by an entirely unassuming, honest, incisive little mini-comic. If that sounds like just the thing you could use in your life right now — and it is — then you need look no further than this one. Oh, and the title? I’m not giving away the game there — it’s clearly meant to lure in curious readers, so I’m just going to leave it to do its job.
Kyoto Pants Down is available for $2.20 (hooray for Australian exchange rates!) from Mandy Ord’s Etsy store at https://www.etsy.com/listing/666046420/kyoto-pants-down-comic?ref=shop_home_active_2&sca=1
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3 thoughts on “Two More From Mandy Ord : “Kyoto Pants Down””
Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens.
Her style kinda puts me in the mind of Bob Armstrong, or Wayno back on the Beer Nutz days!
I could see that, although her line is thicker than either of theirs.