For number 86 in their Mini Kus! series, Latvian publisher Kus! didn’t have to venture beyond their borders to find home-grown talent Roberts Rurans, whose work you may recall from some of their anthology publications and who more than proves up for the challenge of carrying a 28-page publication all on his own. In fact, if anything, (extra) Ordinary demonstrates that he could’ve used a bit more space.
Not for narrative, mind you — as far as story goes this is plenty “decompressed,” even threadbare, as is — but his Tommi Parish-esque compositions are so lush, so colorful, and so imaginative that 10-12 more pages of them wouldn’t be objectionable in the least. His tale herein is ostensibly about a young girl seeking escape from boredom, and to say it’s never boring in the least is an understatement of pretty significant, even borderline-criminal, proportions.
Now, whether our nameless protagonist finds that escape in her mind or in consensus physical reality I leave very much up yo you to determine for yourself — I lean toward the latter, yet that’s almost neither here nor there — but either way, the circus is in town, and it’s a circus of delirium and delight. If you’re one of those people who likes to be surprised on every page, you’ll be satisfied to a flat-out ridiculous degree here, as the vaguely-linear series of images shift and flow from one entirely unexpected thing to the next, each and every one of them a brightly-colored showcase for Rurans’ mastery of form and shape, his energetic transference of emotion and imagination into expressive abstractions and then into recognizable animals and objects. It’s a veritable clinic, and that’s no lie.
No less than Walter Mitty himself would be proud of this young dreamer as she creates excitement and wonder out of thin air and everyday objects, everything that crosses her path or enters her line of sight a potential conscript in her war against the lifeless and mundane. Yes, this is an “art-first “comic, but it still tells one hell of a fun little story that you’ll hate to see end.
I don’t think it’s any secret that we live in trying and turbulent times — if you disagree, then you clearly haven’t been paying attention to, well, anything — and reminders that things are good are hard to come by. Rurans does more than that, though — he reminds us that life is, or at least can be, flat-out wonderful and amazing. And while it’s tempting to add the caveat of “as long as you’re willing to imagine that it is,” in truth the message here is deeper, more significant, more profound, more potentially revelatory : it’s wonderful and amazing because you imagine it is.
At a time when so many of us are stuck at home — and not without very good reason, rest assured I’m not one of these “anti-lockdown” blowhards in their MAGA hats — there’s probably no more important a thing to be reminded of that that. And there’s no better-presented a reminder than that which Rurans conveys in these immersive, deliriously gorgeous pages.
extra (Ordinary) is available for $7.00 from the Kus! webshop at https://kushkomikss.ecrater.com/p/35759368/extra-ordinary-by-roberts-rrns#
Also, this review — and all others around these parts — is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. Subscribing is the best way to support my continuing work, so I’d be very appreciative if you’d take a moment to check it out by directing your kind attention to https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse