Thursday, April 29, 2010

comics of la décade: episode li'l biblioteca

Kabuki (David Mack)

I bought my first issue of Kabuki (Metamorphosis #5) sometime during my senior year of high school. It was completely novel and I was enthralled even though I really had no idea what the hell was going on. I must of stared at those pages for hours trying to decipher the action. Some character named Kabuki was trying to escape from orderlies, preppy ninjas, and some kind of order of secret agents. These weren't your standard muscle-bound, spandex-wearing, Kirbyesque fisticuffs.

Kabuki wades through various genres—spy, superhero, cyberpunk, sci-fi, martial arts—using them as tools to expand on larger themes of identity and family, and the relationship between action and thought. Mack illustrates abstract ideas by placing his characters in abstract scenery—trapped in a blank limbo, floating in textures of water color and acrylic paint, running in Escher-esque algorithmic landscapes.

And just as he melds genres, Mack incorporates a wide variety of art media—pen and ink, watercolor, collage, pencil, oil, acrylic, photography, and sculpture. He uses a different medium and different styles within mediums depending on what's happening within the narrative. Action sequences may take on a more traditional comic book feel; while scenes focusing on the character's past and familial relationships might take on a looser, splotchy water color feel; and philosophical discussions between characters might take on a child-like expressive feel.

My point, really, regardless of all the highfalutin' bluster above, is that Kabuki is one of the most beautiful works of art I've ever seen. And the story is hugely ambitious, entertaining, and thought-provoking.

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