March 14, 2013


This Review Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin

(Maciej Sienczyk; Biedriba Grafiskie stasti/Mini Kus!)
There are odd things occurring in Latvia. Nobody seems to understand this better than the Riga based publishing house Biedriba Grafiskie stasti who publish the anthology kuš! (pronounced koosh!) which they started in 2007. As they say on their website, "The aims of kuš! are to popularize comics in a country where this medium is practically non-existant and spreading Latvian comics abroad." They also publish mini comics, and the focus of this review is one of those, Mini Kus! #12 Historyjki by Polish artist Maciej Sienczyk.

In Historyjki, Sienczyk explores six dream-like vignettes that try to make sense of what may be the stories we tell each other in the midst of our R.E.M. sleep. From "Singing Fluffs," a story about how a man helps himself sweep his floor by imagining the dust singing the sacred tune of his bra-less dead sister, to "The Bread Faun" which explores a "folk tale" about a creature made of bread who roams in the world "to put all the people who don't kiss dropped bread to shame," to "The Boilman" which is about a boy who could only survive in boiling water, these tales and the others in this book comment on our need to make sense of the world and explore the unbelievable layers of nonsense we put on top of experience in order to explain the unexplainable.
At its heart, Historyjki is about storytelling, the creative force, and human behavior.
It is also weird as shit. 
If Edward Gorey and Antonin Artaud had a love child, it would be the pages of Historyjki.
At times more illustrated story than comic book, Historyjki challenges you to make sense of its pages as Sienczyk goes hard for the surreal and the absurd. I found myself reading and re-reading his 24 pages as if it were a map to my own subconscious, and I kept getting lost, missing landmarks, having to back-track and start again. After my fourth journey, I found myself really only three steps to my left, my feet throbbing, mildly dehydrated, but all the better for having made this trek.
There's an opening that occurs while reading this book, a blooming, but it requires you to have stamina. This is not a book for a lazy reader, nor is it a book for someone who likes their entertainment light. This is challenging work, but, in this, the rewards are the greatest.
You don't have to travel to Latvia to purchase Historyjki -- it's available at kuš! komiksi.

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