Zine, Jeff Kulak, 24 pgs, jeffkulak.com, $12
Perhaps more than any other sport, gymnastics of any kind are intensely steeped in perfectionism, zeroing in on the finest detail in every action, the minutiae of every performance. Vancouver-based illustrator and graphic designer Jeff Kulak is wholly aware of this pressure. In Perfect Form, however, he shows and celebrates the inherent joy and sensuality of movement at the core of the sport, managing to shirk the sometimes stringent and oppressive atmosphere that sports can create.
The zine is a series of illustrations of individuals engaging in various gymnastics activities. The images in the zine are rendered in a bold, tight, optimistic colour scheme. The figures themselves vary, but none fit the traditional vision one may have of a gymnast — in most cases, they’re much more akin to 70s gay clones or daddy bears. The artwork is clean, and each mid-action gymnast is unique, always rendered with care. A mustachioed and long-haired figure strikes a pose for a selfie. A person with a flattop haircut and adorned with a handkerchief holds their position on the parallel bars. A buff, bearded figure per- forms a ribbon routine. Friends alternately perform and sit on a balance beam. Another bearded figure strikes a pose to an enthusiastic panel of judges —10s across the board.
This zine intentionally presents a wide spread of body types and ambitions, and different ways of inhabiting identities (and responding to them). But Kulak does not prize one over another.
One gay gymnast’s practice is not any less meaningful or rewarding than another’s, and what a relief. Perfection, that obsession baked into the sport, is replaced with the joy and sensation of practiced movements.