Poems for a Young Thug
Comic, Kai Lumbang, Frown House & Small Sword Press, smallswordpress.bigcartel.com, $4
This little zine contains two short stories: “Side Quest” and “Brothers Convenience”. While completely different in style, the two are fairly similar in tone, and show Lumbang’s clever awareness of his medium and the tools that can be used for zinemaking.
“Side Quest” follows two former adventurers, now working on contract for some kind of unmentioned adventurer’s corporation. It follows the typical tropes of a “should we have sold out?” debate between characters, and is neither memorable nor condemnable for this offence. The idea that a Nintendo-esque adventurer could contract out his services is novel enough to keep the dialogue flowing. “Brothers Convenience” is a radical break from this style, however, depicting in scattered shapes what only might be a convenience store, or a field, or an electric transformer. This runs in contrast to the strange, nonchalant dialogue floating by in tiny speech bubbles: “looks like a storm” observes the page, over an impression of oncoming clouds; or later, “a boy’s gotta get snax” echoing beneath electric cables, with diamonds floating in the sky. “Brothers Convenience” is a great deal more unorthodox than “Side Quest”, and it works.
In both comics, if one could call them that, Lumbang eschews panels in lieu of arranging his characters and scenes on the physical page strategically, to photocopy them all together. He uses the techniques of collage artists, but applies an element of narrative, and it really comes together. (Joel W. Vaughan)