Rating: 5/5 – A Tale About a Man and a Dog (That Isn’t Even His)
by ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
We originally reviewed the first issue of Kinski when it was released digitally through Monkeybrain Comics last year. After the series wrapped, Image decided to publish a trade paperback, collecting all six issues. If you haven’t tried this digitally, now would be the time to seek this out as creator Gabriel Hardman has created a unique, tension filled and touching story about a man and his dog. Only the dog isn’t his.
As the story opens, traveling salesman Joe finds a stray dog who he has an immediate and deep connection with, so much so that in just a few minutes he’s given the dog a name, Kinski. Unfortunately, the connection doesn’t last long as the dog is picked up by animal control, and taken away from Joe. Over the course of this six issue series, we see Joe attempting to get him back by any means necessary. What makes this book so strong is the characterization of Joe, not only through the writing, but also through the art. Hardman does such an amazing job of making you question how you as a reader feel about Joe and his relationship to this dog.
At times you’ll feel for him and all he goes through in order to make this dog feel safe, while at other times you’ll judge him for not living up to his responsibilities, seeming as though he may have some deeper issues that affect his maturity. Hardman brilliantly rides the line between your two emotions, while at the same time ending each chapter in a way where all of that is momentarily forgotten as you desperately turn the page in order to find out what happens next. Hardman controls the pacing so well right up until the very end, and will have you questioning Joe’s motivations and mindset long after you finish reading.
The art done in black and white is a perfect fit for the story and Hardman captures the emotions in each character’s face, including Kinski as can be seen by the simple yet effective cover. The settings and backgrounds that Hardman chose are realistic and believable, giving the world a real life feel. Hardman uses the blacks perfectly, and in a particularly emotional scene towards the end, those blacks and shadows provide such a powerful sense of mood against the dark night sky and minimal ambient light. Much like the writing, the art does an effective job of balancing the highs and lows with the use of blacks and whites. Overall, Hardman succeeds in grabbing your attention and not letting go. It’s a perfectly told story in a wonderful format. At about three-quarters the size of a comic, Kinski is simple even within it’s form factor. Kinski is a must read book that I’d consider to be one of the best collected editions this year and you need to experience it for yourself.
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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