Mini Kus! Catch-Up : “(extra) Ordinary” By Roberts Rurans (Mini Kus! #86)


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

For number 86 in their Mini Kus! series, Latvian publisher Kus! didn’t have to venture beyond their borders to find home-grown talent Roberts Rurans, whose work you may recall from some of their anthology publications and who more than proves up for the challenge of carrying a 28-page publication all on his own. In fact, if anything, (extra) Ordinary demonstrates that he could’ve used a bit more space.

Not for narrative, mind you — as far as story goes this is plenty “decompressed,” even threadbare, as is — but his Tommi Parish-esque compositions are so lush, so colorful, and so imaginative that 10-12 more pages of them wouldn’t be objectionable in the least. His tale herein is ostensibly about a young girl seeking escape from boredom, and to say it’s never boring in the least is an understatement of pretty significant, even borderline-criminal, proportions.

Now, whether our nameless protagonist…

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Mini Kus! Catch-Up : “Hero” By Harukichi (Mini Kus! #85)


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I know just about nothing in regards to Japanese cartoonist and experimental musician Harukichi, but that’s one of the sublime joys of the long-running Mini Kus! line from Latvian “art comics” publisher Kus! — its introduces you to new voices from around the globe whose work likely wouldn’t come across your radar otherwise. And when it comes to Harukichi’s Hero — number 85 in the Mini Kus! series — I’m damn glad it did.

Apparently, our protagonist in this one — a cat named Gosshie who “works” as a DJ — is a recurring character in Harukichi’s stories, and his gift appears to be the ability to find exactly the right song for every occasion. Not a bad skill to have, to be sure, and in this comic he cleverly deploys one apropos track after another for situations ranging from the everyday to the extraordinary as he makes his way…

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Mini Kus! Catch-Up : “The Book Fight” By Chihoi (Mini Kus! #84)


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Talk about a step out of the old “comfort zone” — Hong Kong-based cartoonist Chihoi is best known for delicate, lushly-rendered graphite illustration that’s equal parts emotive, subtle, and expressive, but with his latest mini, The Book Fight, he takes off the gloves — even if his literal Comic Book protagonist does, in fact, wear a pair of them. Boxing gloves, to be precise. And he definitely punches well above his weight class.

Rendered in sub-garish oranges, yellows, and whites, Chihoi’s book — which “weighs in” at number 84 in the long-running Mini Kus! line — contains plenty of visual bang for your buck, sure, complete with Kirby-esque flair, flourish, and (crucially) impact, but underneath all the admittedly self-aware bombast is a point well taken, namely : the hierarchy of “art book” publications is complete bullshit, and there’s nothing to preclude you from enjoying a well-constructed children’s pop-up…

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Parallel Lives (1994, directed by Linda Yellen)


A large group of people gather together one weekend for a fraternity/sorority reunion.  Since college, some of them have become rich and powerful.  Some of them are now famous.  Some of them are now seedy and disreputable.  They all have college memories, though there’s such a wide variety of age groups represented that it’s hard to believe that any of them actually went to college together.  After the men spend the day playing practical jokes and touch football and the women spend the night talking about their hopes and dreams, they wake up the next morning to discover the someone has murdered Treat Williams.  A pony-tailed sheriff (Robert Wagner) shows up to question everyone.

Parallel Lives was made for Showtime with the help of the Sundance Institute.  Today, it’s a forgotten film but, for some reason, it was very popular with American Airlines during the summer of 1997.  That summer, when I flew to the UK, Parallel Lives was one of the movies that we were shown.  (It was the second feature.  The first feature was Down Periscope, a submarine comedy starring Kelsey Grammar.  Fourteen year-old me enjoyed Down Periscope but, in retrospect, it wasn’t much of a flight.)  A month and a half later, when I flew back to the U.S., Parallel Lives was again one of the films shown on the flight!  For that reason, I may be the only person on the planet who has not forgotten that a film called Parallel Lives exists.

Parallel Lives, I later learned, was an entirely improvised film.  The huge cast were all given their characters and a brief outline of the film’s story and they were then allowed to come up with their own dialogue.  Unfortunately, no one did a very good job of it and the men were reduced to bro-ing it up while the women spent most of the movie having extended group therapy.  The story doesn’t add up too much and, even when I rewatched it from an adult’s perspective, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to get out of everyone talking about how different the real world was from college.  Technically, the film’s a murder mystery but you can’t improvise a successful murder mystery.  This film proves that point.

Of course, it doesn’t help that there are 26 characters, all trying to get a word in at the same time.  Some of the roles don’t make much sense.  Dudley Moore shows up, playing an imaginary friend.  (How do you improvise being a figment of someone’s imagination?)  James Brolin introduces himself to everyone as being, “Professor Doctor Spencer Jones” and that appears to be as far as he got with his improv.  Ben Gazzara is a gambler and Mira Sorvino is the prostitute that he brings to the reunion while Mira’s father, Paul Sorvino, moons the camera several times.  Jack Klugman is a senator with Alzheimer’s and Patricia Wettig is his daughter.  The majority of the movie centers around Jim Belushi, playing a reporter and falling in love with JoBeth Williams.  Liza Minnelli, Helen Slater, Levar Burton, Lindsay Crouse, Matthew Perry, Ally Sheedy, and Gena Rowlands all have small roles.  How did so many talented people come together to make such a forgettable movie and why did American Airlines decide it was the movie to show people on their way to another country?  That’s the true mystery of Parallel Lives.

Mini Kus! Catch-Up : “Chapter Two” By Keren Katz (Mini Kus! #83)


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Confession time : I hate “Secret Santa.” Not out of some general antipathy toward the Holiday Season in general — although that plays a part — but more because the “exchange” either forces you to view somebody you likely don’t really know all that well as a generic, interchangeable type of figure (“I’ll get them a pair of ugly Christmas socks! That’ll be fun!”), or to actually get to know more about them than you care to in order to pick out a gift they might genuinely like. But what the hell do I know? Consistently-fascinating cartoonist Keren Katz (covered most recently around these parts in my review of her latest full-length book, The Backstage Of A Dishwashing Webshow) says it’s her favorite game, and she’s found a unique way to express her love of it in her latest mini, Chapter Two, which is number 83 in…

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Music Video of the Day: Problem Child by AC↯DC (1976, directed by Russell Mulcahy)


Here’s the thing about AC/DC.

When it came to music videos, they’ve never needed to do anything fancy.  They’re not one of those bands that needs a bunch of bells and whistles to look impressive.  All they have to do is come out on stage and rock.  Their best music videos are usually very simple performance clips, like this one.

This video was filmed at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne, Australia.  If it looks rough, that’s because it was supposed to be a part of a large concert film but the film’s backers ran out of money before any major post-production work could be done.  The rough look, however, works for AC/DC.  They are a band that could handle looking rough.

Russell Mulchay, of course, went on to direct multiple videos for Duran Duran, along with Highlander.

Enjoy!