Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Wall City by Alex Kim
I am slowly working my way through the great books I got at MoCCA this summer. When I went to the fest I had a few things on my list: Tear Stained Make-Up, Black Mane, the new Meathaus (which I didn’t get), and the new Sundays anthology of which Kim is a contributor. Though I knew all graduating members of the CCS class of 2008 had to turn in a thesis, and I have really enjoyed his other comics like Bird & Bear, Kim’s wasn’t really on my radar. Stupid broken radar.
Kim’s characters’ clothing often looks like it has been beset by parasites, which, though the squiggliness may be in part his attempt to develop his own style, works very well in this comic of suppressed emotion. These characters are crawling with internal turmoil, but it is somehow just the way of the world.
Wall City tells the story of a worn out EMT named Minty and his chance encounter with another lost soul in a hoody. She has a dead sister and he has a dead dad, both suicides. Minty hasn’t really processed his father’s death, causing not only his inertia, but hallucinations where his father questions Minty’s inability to get over his somewhat mysterious death. Because of these cues and others, I though Wall City was going to be an unraveling of Minty’s father’s death, where Minty finds his purpose in being a detective of sorts. Instead, Wall City is a beautiful, weird story about grief.
Kim really gets to the weird internal freeze of grieving with his story’s cold and stark atmosphere. The emotional grunt work it takes to move through a death is the central metaphor of the book but instead of lots of crying and being crazy these two build a wall. The wall is both obvious and perfect—a huge feat for such a young creator. The fleeting and often practical nature of relationships forged in grief is shown in the context of the relationship between Minty and hoody girl. Lives are marked differently by the loss of important people in our lives. Some people are swallowed by it. Others are set adrift. The epilogue is a testament to living through it.
Wall City was a great surprise. Please check it out.