Monday, December 20, 2010

WJC Comic No. 2: Kani

By Warwick Johnson Cadwell

Underwater samurai! In Victorian diving costumes! It’s like if Lone Wolf and Cub had been created by Jules Verne! Three samurai descend to the depths of the ocean and encounter a lone guardian, the Red Demon. A fight ensues, with the added difficulty of each participant having to protect their own air supply.

The mostly silent comic doesn’t give any explanations for why these samurai are underwater, or what they’re trying to achieve. Why are they fighting? I don’t know, nor do I care. Rather Cadwell’s comic grabs me with its ridiculous premise, style, and distinctive art.

Cadwell’s art is not the heavily researched realism you might find in other samurai comics. Instead it’s a rough sketchy style filled with strange proportions and lacking almost entirely in straight lines. While you might think that the hard shells of diving suits wouldn’t work well in his organic style it somehow does. Perhaps the changing proportions, when combined with the heavy use of zipatoned backgrounds, helps to create an underwater feel to the whole comic, where the movement of the water affects how you view things. At times the action in Cadwell’s art seems almost slowed down, as though the water was making movement harder for the participants.

Needless to say I’m looking forward to his (seemingly full colour!) book Gungle coming out from Blank Slate Books next year.

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