by Gabriel Hardman
I've been a fan of Gabriel Hardman's work for some time now (I think he first came to my attention when he was drawing Hulk for Greg Pak), and have especially been enjoying his work with his wife Corinna Bechko on Invisible Republic, not to mention their excellent Planet of the Apes and Star Wars: Legacy work.
Kinski is a recent solo outing for Hardman, and it is a hard book to get a read on. Joe is a guy in town on business when he finds a lost dog, names him Kinski after the actor in a favourite movie of his, and decides to keep him. When he finds out that Kinski already has a family (and another name), that doesn't stop him from kidnapping the dog, and embarking on a journey that is a very unfunny comedy of errors, costing him his job, friendships, and really, sense of reality.
What's strange about this book, and is the thing that kept bothering me about it, is that Hardman never really explains Joe's motivations. His friend and co-worker suggests that he has some kind of unresolved childhood issues towards a family pet, but Hardman never makes that clear. This makes the book a little more unsettling, but also much more effective in its role as a portrait of insanity.
Hardman's art is always nice, but feels a little cleaner and simpler in this book, as if he were using it as a way of escaping the more intricate and planned work of Invisible Republic. Hardman shows us a part of the US where giant RV tent cities are unremarkable, and where relationships are as precarious as the employment. I guess it makes sense that Joe wants to have some kind of connection to something loyal, even if it doesn't make sense to anyone else that he would risk his well-being for someone else's perfectly content pet.