Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Gloriana by Kevin Huizenga Review

Kevin Huizenga’s EXPLOSIVE, RIVETING short comics collected in GLORIANA see his everyman character, Glenn “Y’all ready for this?” Ganges, 1) watch his pregnant wife Wendy unpack groceries, 2) read a book in a library, 3) stare at a blood moon with his neighbours and 4) reminisce about playing high school basketball. Do NOT read this book if you have a heart condition – THE EXCITEMENT MAY BE TOO MUCH TO HANDLE!! Hey! HEY, YOU! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

Huizenga’s slice of life comics have always been extremely lo-fi yet very readable and mildly entertaining as well, and Gloriana is no different. Groceries is a clever way of looking at the same scene with two different interpretations. From Glenn’s perspective, he’s in awe of Wendy who has a baby growing inside her and he’s moved by thinking of the years to come, teaching his kid to ride a bike, etc.; Wendy’s pissed off because he’s just standing there watching her while she unpacks the groceries by herself! Huizenga even throws in an unexpected surreal panel before moving back to the mundane. It’s a great strip. 

The Library story is another clever experiment, this time trying to capture the full experience of doing something simple while taking in the wider world around you. The fold-out page is a bit much though. It looks like one big mess of scrawls a kid would do after downing one juice box too many (sugar rush)! 

The Blood Moon story is sooooooooo dry and boring! It starts out with Glenn’s religious neighbours stood in the street staring at the red moon, believing it’s a Biblical sign of the apocalypse. Glenn decides to educate them by teaching them how the illusion is done. This takes the form of several highly-detailed, science-filled pages that were near-unreadable. What a yawner! 

The high school basketball story was so completely mundane I wondered if it was a joke on comics memoirs in general. He was on the high school basketball team but didn’t really love the sport, and then he stopped playing it and that’s it. 

Like a lot of Kevin Huizenga’s work, Gloriana is a clever use of the medium even if the avant-garde routes it sometimes takes make for some truly tedious comics. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting blend of experimental and everyday in a cute small hardcover edition that’s worth a look for indie comics fans.


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