CARTOONISTS: Shaky Kane & Krent Able
PUBLISHED BY: Image Comics

In Kane & Able by Shaky Kane & Krent Able, readers are invited to step into a world of caped crusaders… but if you rarely read beyond the panels of superhero comics, you’ll be undertaking an extremely uncanny journey!

This oversize comic – as in, it is a full twelve inches tall – is filled with incredible art and a sensibility all its own. Described on the back cover as genre-busting “summer dump cake,” this graphic novel is well worth your attention.

Double Your Pleasure

While Kane & Able is nominally an anthology, that isn’t really an adequate description: it’s more like the reader is signing up to be the subject of an experiment in genre and medium.

Exquisite Corpse with Kane & Able!

As one advances through the stories and included special features (more on that below), the rug will be repeatedly pulled out from under you, and just when you think you’ve found your bearing, the world will turn upside down again. The result is a comic that feels both familiar and not: a truly unheimlich experience.

Another narrative layer infringes on the gutter in Kane’s “The Astonishing Shield-Bug!”

Visually, both Kane and Able knock it out of the park. Kane’s pair of stories each feature multiple narrative layers, which are distinguished by differing styles of art. These layers cut nimbly across many different aspects of the cape comic experience, incorporating the creators, comic cons, and characters into a fascinating matrix.

I feels good to join the flesh-wave in Able’s “Black Fur.”

Meanwhile, Able’s stories are each aesthetically and tonally disparate from one another. Each introduces the reader to a unique and somewhat demented world, pulling variously from 70s Spider-Man comics and the backgrounds of old Scooby Doo cartoons (see Able’s interview with The Beat for more on the influences behind these comics – as well as what it was like work with Chainsaw Doll #2).

And the indelible nature of the images in this book is incredible, and must be mentioned. Can you imagine what a five-headed Dracula child looks like? How about a Jack Kirby-esque Space Boss chilling on the couch, enjoying a plentiful spread of slightly-off-brand snack foods? Read Kane & Able, and your memories of these images will forever flicker before your eyes as you lie in bed at night.

All the Trimmings

One of my favorite parts of Kane & Able is the inclusion of classic comics elements… albeit altered to better suit the tone of the anthology.

Another fine product from “Randy’s Rock’N’Roll Basement”!

These include an instance of an ad interrupting Kane’s first story, “The Astonishing Shield-Bug!,” replete with a “continued on next page” arrow in the bottom gutter. The advert page itself is a collection of fake Rock & Roll-themed products that calls to mind those you find in older comics issues (and frankly, considering how bizarre many of those old products appear nowadays, this made-up merch seems alarmingly plausible).

But perhaps the ultimate inclusion is the letters page. Not only are several of the included ersatz letters laugh out loud hilarious, but when they begin to deconstruct the preceding comics, this anthology really begins to sing.

Kane & Able is at your LCS

Ultimately, Kane & Able is an anthology that is greater than the sum of its parts – and when the parts are as impressive as these components are, that’s saying something significant!

In his interview with Comics Bookcase, Kane stated that he hopes that we get Son of Kane & Able, even suggesting it could be an annual summer tradition. We should be so lucky! But for now, pick up Kane & Able at your earliest convenience.

Kane & Able is available at your local comic shop on Wednesday, June 30th, 2021.