By next week, I should be back in the groove of updating. NaNoWriMo shall have come to a close, and while I won’t be hitting the 50k mark, I’m relatively happy with what I did write, which seems a reasonable mark of success in my book. But anyway – next week, regular updates. For today, a review of Kukuburi.
I’ll be honest – I like Butternut Squash, I really do, but I’ve never really considered it in the top tier of webcomics… and if you had told me that one of the creators would suddenly start producing one of the most intensely imaginative webcomics around, I simply wouldn’t have believed you.
But he did, and it is Kukuburi.
In the last year, I’ve noticed a substantial growth in the field of delightfully surreal fantasy comics – but this hasn’t diminished my enjoyment of them in the slightest. This strip, which begins with a lizard, seems eager to get to the moment where the magic begins to flow… but that doesn’t diminish the potency of the first ten pages.
I mean, I know Ramón Pérez is a fantastic artist – Butternut Squash made that plenty clear. But the writing in this piece holds up wonderfully, and the rising tension in those first ten pages really latches hold of the reader. The other most impressive factor is the attention to detail – or, more accurately, all the little touches that elevate this beyond just a simple fantasy romp.
The way obscenities are portrayed as small little skull icons within dialogue boxes, rendered not just harmless, but actively cute. The ability of characters and locations to be present for no more than one to two panels – likely to never be seen again – yet still remain interesting enough to catch the eye. The use of color to show us where this is going before we even get there. (The weight of the simplest of things – somewhat later on, I’m impressed by the appearance – and meaning – of a single flower.)
The fact that Pérez manages to follow our heroine’s life for those first ten pages without ever once truly showing us her face, until the moment she steps into the bizarre fantasy adventure awaiting her.
In some ways, I almost like that introduction more than what actually comes after it – but I suspect that is in part because the introduction is complete, while the story itself is only getting started.
Thus far, the plot is simple but potentially complex: Nadia lives a normal, everyday life, until today – wherein she steps into a fantastic world of color and flying whales and floating islands and many other wonders. We don’t yet know why she is here or the nature of the world, though it seems clear she is connected to it in some very important way.
It is a story, thus far, that we’ve seen before – in the works of Miyazaki and Neil Gaiman, in the classic of the Wizard of Oz.
The question is, for all the pretty artwork (and it is very, very pretty), can it stand on its own as something new and unique?
I have high hopes. Even aside from the art, there is a very strong sense of style amidst the absurdities, and that is important. But the real key, I think, lies in the star of the show – Nadia, the heroine of the tale. Because she really stands out as her own character – spunky, strong, and capable of coming out on top despite being in over her head. She’s not something we’ve seen before, and I think she is the key to the story being more than simply an exercise in beautifully illustrated imaginings.
For now, I’m willing to simply sit back and be amazed by the quality of the work and the somewhat frightening speed at which it has been released, considering it isn’t Pérez’s only webcomic.
I’m surprised it took me this long to discover it (especially considering I actually read his other comic), but I’ll attribute that to my usual inability to stay in the loop. I suspect, however, that this is a comic it won’t be so easy to hide from as word spreads – while it might be small now, it certainly has the potential to be one of webcomic’s rising stars.
It certainly qualifies, by my standards, as a damn good comic.
I just read Kukuburi… I needed that hour to do homework, dammit, and now I keep thinking about french octopi!
If webcomics are good at accomplishing a single task, I’d put money on that task being stealing time from readers that should more properly be spent on work, school, or other important sundries.