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lunedì 23 settembre 2013

š! #13-14

Various Authors, Kuš! Komiksi, Riga (Latvia), April and August 2013, 164 pages and $13 (worldwide shipping included) each.

With the publication in late August of the new Kuš comics anthology, we can also look back at the previous issue, out last April. Founded in November 2008, the Latvian magazine has earned a remarkable reputation in the international comics scene, so that the editors are now able to create a good mix between emerging authors and indie cartoonists already known to the audience. Every book has a general theme and is characterized by a style that if isn't typical of all the names involved, at least associates most of them. The heterogeneous proposals are in fact dominated by a strong graphic impact, in which the form prevails and the content tends mostly to divertissement. Since it's very difficult to examine all the 328 pages of the two volumes, I prefer to talk briefly about the contributions I found the most original and accomplished.
The issue 13, entitled Life is Live, contains "autobiographical, semi- autobiographical or even autobiografictional comics" due to artists who usually do not deal with realistic and biographical themes. The decision to choose an Ana Albero cover fits perfectly, since she is one of the members of German collective Biografiktion (I reviewed their book published by Nobrow Press a few posts ago). She also realizes the interior illustrations and a short story in black and white, simple in the structure but pleasant for the grace used by the Spanish cartoonist living in Berlin to draw the rotund female figures. Other special guests are Simon Hanselmann, from Australia, author of a new chapter of his funny series Megg, Mogg and Howl about a poor owl mistreated by a cat and a witch (pay attention to the collection Megahex, to be released next year by Fantagraphics), and the Puerto Rican Jonny Negron, with his elongated heads, the innovative construction of the page and the hallucinatory atmosphere. Among others, I liked Anete Melece light but graphically well-done story, Dogboy who proves to have a personal style with his morbid and strongly colored cybersex tale, and Ruta Briede, able to focus on an idea and develop it in a pop-art solution.

Issue 14 is dedicated to sports and has an Amanda Baeza cover. The Chilean girl is also author of Ping Pong Studies, in green and orange with the page splitted like a ping-pong table and the figures who come out from the panels expressing their dynamism. Dutch Michiel Budel, known for Wayward Girls series published overseas by Secret Acres, wins the award of the coolest guest: Roller Derby with the Warriors is a story of ruthless skaters characterized by slender figures and pastel colors, where gratuitous violence and humour go hand in hand.

Latvian artist Dace Sietina does a good work too. Already a contributor in the previous š!, she improved her style, hitting the target thanks to elaborate splash pages focused on mexican lucha libre. It's impossible then to describe sports without references to the world of anime. In Taken Hong Kong cartoonist Lai Tat Tat Wing mixes exasperated sports and science fiction in the typical Japanese tradition, while Team Spirit of Italian artist Ratigher, manga from style to subject, tells of a newcomer in a synchronized swimming team harassed by demonic mates.

For other informations you can check Kuš! website, where you can discover the artists involved, or better yet you can order the magazine, sold at a very honest price, thanks to the small size (A6) and the praiseworthy support of the Latvian State Culture Capital Foundation.