Review: Aidan Koch and Paloma Dawkins look inward and far out

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After Nothing Comes by Aidan Koch

This collection from Koyama Press of Koch’s early mini comics speaks to what makes Koch stand out. With an art style that might even be called slight, often featuring faint lines that at times have an unfinished feel, others that feel as if they are fading from the page, Koch makes very light impressions on your eyesight even as she begs for much more behind those corneas.

Warmer is the most linear of the entries, despite the abstract conversation presentation of a relationship between two people, but it is indicative of the intangibles that Koch often tries to express, such as connection to nature or the emotional content of movement, the stuff that most comics won’t touch, partly because they don’t know how and partly because the creators may not even notice such delicate weights exist.

I can’t say that Koch is for everyone, and the more entrenched you are in the world of narrative comics, probably the less likely you are to take to this easily. It’s best approached as a poetry chapbook, offering nothing but sections of Koch’s soul in an attempt to make contact with parts of her reader’s.

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Summer Land by Paloma Dawkins

Summer Land, from Retrofit and Big Planet Comics, concerns that magical place which is host to that pivotal moment in our youth, where dreams unfold and futures courses are set in motion. Specifically it’s where cousins Gwen and Santana take part in a play together, as well as attend a beach party and become ensconced by the stark natural surroundings that tower and creep around them.

A jet into the future shows what has become of the cousins, how their fates are prefaced in their younger desires and, though imperfect, their lives take place against a dreamy backdrop.

That backdrop is the real star of the show here, a cascading wonder of fluttering psychedelia created by beach floors and canyons and crowds of people, mixing and swirling to create a heightened reality.

Paloma Dawkins embellishes these visions in fascinating and different color choices by using different color pages as the base and then building from there. One page might be various shades of red or purple, another might be based in yellow but offer greens and blues, pinks and oranges as the colors of Summer Land, creating a dreamy mood that is matched by the flow of the narrative.

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