Comic Review – “Kuns by Return” by Cráter Invertido

(c) Cráter Invertido

Faces from the Deep

An aura of mystery pervades Kuns by Return, a black and white comic with almost no written language, and a title that leaves readers guessing on both its content and author/s. The first few pages show a masked and cloaked figure digging holes in a barren landscape, unearthing bones and ancient statues that echo the pictographic languages of the Maya and other Pre-Columbian civilizations. Eventually, faces of flesh and sinew emerge from the deep, gazing intently at the viewer. Are these faces from the past or from the present? The comic gives no easy answer but instead sends readers, and its masked protagonist, on a road trip from a desert to a bustling metropolis.

(c) Cráter Invertido

Kuns by Return has an organic, dream-like quality, with stark lines that resemble color pencil and charcoal that give texture to the comic’s images. The story features multiple characters whose actions and intentions are not always clear. Yet, beneath the enigma something more profound shines through, like a landscape glimpsed beneath opaque waters. It is a story about transformation, about alienation and the possibility of togetherness, told with a raw energy that carries readers through the book’s twists and tangles.

Kuns by Return was drawn by three artists, Waysatta, DiegoTeo and Jazael from the Mexican collective Cráter Invertido. Self-published in the framework of the art exhibition documenta fifteen, it is an intriguing read, and another reason to dive deeper into Mexican comics.

Kuns by Return
Cráter Invertido(MX)

Self-published, available at Hopscotch Reading Room Berlin

This summer, I had the pleasure of meeting members of Cráter Invertido in person in the framework of the lumbung of Publishers during the art exhibition documenta fifteen in Kassel. Stay tuned for an interview with the artists!

Comic Review – Spring Nr. 18 “Freiheit”

(c) Spring

Recently, I stumbled across a quote by the philosopher Hannah Arendt: “People can be free only in relation to one another.” This sentence encapsulates my view of the past two years, the time of the pandemic and all its restrictions but also of the aggravated effects of the climate crisis in Europe. In my opinion, our present moment demands a radical rethinking of personal freedom. So what better topic for the latest issue of the bilingual* feminist comics anthology Spring, which come out late last year.

Through varied artistic approaches, the artists of the anthology delve into different facets of the subject ‘freedom’. Some entries are as abstract as the comic The Wall by Doris Freigofas, of which the surprising conclusion left me astounded. Other comics are more concrete like Nothing Happened Anyway by Stephanie Wunderlich which takes us back to a summer of the author’s adolescence which greatly impacted her life. Spring is void of any comic-typical panel layouts and instead utilizes page-filling images which blur the boundary between comic and illustration. The anthology, which was founded 2004 in Hamburg, features both fresh artistic experiments and an appealing visual coherence. Clear recommendation!

*Spring is published in German with English subtitles.

Spring Nr. 18 – „Freiheit“
Comicanthologie (GER)

Marisch Verlag (new issue annualy)

Comic Review – “Fürchtetal” by Markus and Christine Färber

Trigger warning: this text contains mentions of suicide.

There are few topics that confront me with the limits of language as drastically as grief. How should I face a person who has lost a family member or a friend? In our society, grief is often veiled with platitudes, covered with sayings found on postcards that are above all signs of a certain speechlessness.

In their new comic Fürchtetal (German: ‘fear valley’), the siblings Markus and Christine Färber search for words and images to express their personal grief. The plot centers around the death of their father who in 2019 unexpectedly took his life. Through an artistic dialogue, brother and sister return to the landscapes of their childhood, to a forest near the rural village in which they grew up. Like a winding path, the words of Christine Färber guide readers through the book and form a sequence of singular moments, thoughts, and memories regarding her father’s death. Her words seamlessly intertwine with the drawings of Markus Färber who, with broad brushstrokes and grey watercolors, finds melancholy and sometimes fantastical images for the siblings’ experiences.

© Rotopol

Because of its narration, Fürchtetal feels meandering and searching in the best sense. Many passages almost associatively delve into childhood memories of the artist duo, only to return again and again to certain experiences. One of these strains is the last meeting between the siblings and their father when he was in treatment at a clinic due to his mental health. In passages such as these, Markus Färber’s drawings resort to bold abstraction: his father is reduced to the simplified drawing of a head which sits on the bed. What may initially appear like a puzzling artistic choice later enables a certain poetic ambiguity. At its core, Fürchtetal is about the emotional state of the artists who each struggle with the loss of their father in their own way. These multifaceted images, which harness the power of comics in creative ways, make Fürchtetal an engaging read.

© Rotopol

Markus & Christine Färber (GER)