Time For Another Mini Kus! Week : Matt Madden’s “Bridge” (Mini Kus! #96)

Wiser minds than I have posited that life is about “the spaces in between” — and even a dimwit such as myself realizes the “spaces” being referred to could mean those that exist between any number of things : our dreams and our reality, ourselves and those we love, our words and our deeds, you name it. The possibilities are pretty well endless. Occasionally those spaces are chronological in nature, occasionally they’re geographical, once in a blue moon they may even be inter-dimensional — and in Matt Madden’s new comic Bridge (number 96 in the venerable Mini Kus! series from our friends at Kus!), the spaces being explored definitely fall into the first two categories. Hell, you could even make an argument that they fall into the third — but they also might not represent nearly as wide a gulf as it would seem at first.

The bridge that the title refers to is a connecting device of one form or another that would appear to link the three characters Madden’s story revolves around, but what sort of connecting device is rather up to you as a reader to figure out, or at least to intuit. And complicating matters is the notion that it may, indeed, only be notional in and of itself, and therefore may not actually exist at all. But supposing it does — what then?

As with the previous Mini Kus! release that we looked at on this site, David Collier’s Before The Pandemic There Was A Touch Football Tourney, this is a more narratively-driven comic than we often get from Latvia’s premier “art comics” publisher, but that doesn’t preclude it from being experimental — not only in terms of its subject matter and structure, but in terms of the de facto “ground rules” attached to its creation in the first place. This, you see, began life (in an earlier iteration, if I’m not very much mistaken) as a so-called “24 hour comic,” with Madden self-imposing (again, I think) the additional wrinkle that each page had to occur 10 years after the one previous to it. Which begs the question : why doesn’t it feel — or, for that matter, read — as a particularly disjointed work?

Part of that is down to the rather ingenious trope that is the bridge itself, sure, but part of it is also down to the equally-ingenious decision to make it as oblique as possible both by design and default, thereby ensuring that a constant aura of mystery binds people, places, and things together even as events themselves do not — unless, of course, they do. Which is just one more layer of this particularly intriguing Madden is inviting you to peel.

Just as important, though, in terms of establishing a kind of internal cohesion here, is Madden’s decision to stick to a fairly straight-forward formal process throughout — I would imagine that may have been a choice based on pure expediency, having only 24 hours (at least initially) to complete the whole thing, but hey : there’s proof positive for you that sometimes inspiration is forced on an artist via practical considerations. Aesthetic uniformity is crucial to this project’s success, and Madden’s deeply emotive, sparse style is so effective that you’d hate to see him tinker with it merely for the sake of driving home the patently obvious point that he was fast-forwarding through time.
I think that what I appreciate most about this comic, though, is how well it matches smarts with heart. It’s trappings are decidedly “far out,” no question, but it’s a human story humanely told, and packs a pretty solid emotional wallop — however, it’s also effectively constructed, structured and, most crucially, drawn. It’s a near-perfect marriage of the visionary and the utilitarian, and demonstrates that not only are the two things in no way mutually exclusive, they actually bring out the best in each other.

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Bridge is available for $7.00 from the Kus! webshop at https://kushkomikss.ecrater.com/p/38343272/bridge-by-matt-madden

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