Conversation # 1
By Koppy McFad
January 10, 2008 - 04:02
Top Shelf Productions
Writer(s): James Kochalka, Craig Thompson
Penciller(s): James Kochalka, Craig Thompson
Cover Artist(s): James Kochalka, Craig Thompson
Two comic creators debate the nature of art and existance while travelling through a surreal landscape.
This is a slim, tiny comicbook that can be easily tucked into a vest pocket without even folding it or rolling it up. In fact, at first glance, one might easily mistake it for a promotional give-away. But the quality of the paper and printing is first rate although the price of this book may still seem pretty steep, considering its small size.
Basically, it has the cartoon counterparts of the two authors discussing the meaning of art and how it relates to a wider universe. It is supposedly the actual conversation between two comic creators, Kochalka and Thompson, recorded in panel form. But as they talk, they leap into the sea, struggle with a playful octopus, challenge God, ponder the environment and then return to the womb. Not really a story, just a series of strange visuals as a counterpoint to the conversation of the two.
This book could easily become very self-indulgent with the two characters just shooting off their mouths. But the art is always interesting with its combination of the two styles, similar enough to blend together but distinct enough to stand out individually. The two authors do not make too many references to their other work so you do not need to know anything about Kochalka or Thompson to enjoy it.
A nice touch are the "supporting characters" such as the octopus, various woodland animals and even God, who pop up randomly in panels, making clever comments that puncture the self-importance of these two artists. This adds a crucial element of humour to the book without turning it into an all-out parody.
The book is also lifted by its genial good nature. Although this is a conversation of two artists, it never turns into a rant against society, religion, ex-lovers, ex-employers or the comic industry in general. Even the scene of God peeing on the lead characters comes off as light-hearted. In one scene, one character talks about repairing the damage caused by human beings on the environment. The other character then reminds him that if he was really serious, the first thing he would do is stop making comics.
Those looking for a real story will probably feel dissatisfied. But the book is clever enough to be entertaining on its own. However I wonder how long this series of "Conversations" can go on before it becomes tiresome. This is suppose to be the first in a series but any editor will tell you, some comic creators are better off being heard through their work.
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