Monday, November 1, 2010

Check Out RFT Contributor's New Book

Posted By on Mon, Nov 1, 2010 at 12:57 PM

Kevin Huizenga, a self-portrait. - IMAGE VIA

Kevin Huizenga, part of the brain trust behind Amazing Facts & Beyond, which runs weekly in the Riverfront Times (the archives are online, though it looks better in print), has a new book out called The Wild Kingdom and if you have any interest in comics at all -- or philosophy, for that matter -- you should really check it out.

Like Huizenga's previous book Curses (sadly out of print), The Wild Kingdom is a collection of linked short stories featuring Huizenga's everyman character Glenn Ganges. This time Ganges is exploring the "wild kingdom" of his suburban neighborhood, which includes "dead house plants; a recipe for grey squirrel brain; and pigeons eating discarded french fries in the parking lot of a fast food joint." (A preview is available here.)

Ganges' explorations rapidly become a philosophical inquiry into how little we really understand the world that surrounds us, told via increasingly-complex pictures and diagrams and encyclopedia entries -- though that sounds awfully dull and Huizenga's work isn't at all.

As NPR describes it:

Narratively tidy it is not. Neither, for all its humor, could The Wild Kingdom be considered a light read. Instead, what Huizenga has created is a collection of spiky, intellectually adventurous stories that fit together at odd angles. The result: a mordantly funny field guide to a very specific and modern species of dread.

The New York Times wrote last weekend,

click to enlarge A panel from The Animal Kingdom. - KEVIN HUIZENGA
  • Kevin Huizenga
  • A panel from The Animal Kingdom.

Every few pages, there's a hilariously inventive piece of cartooning, like a series of drawings of "fancy pigeons" that start out looking almost convincing and end as horrifying abstractions of feathers and eyes, or a set of deadpan explanatory diagrams that dissolve into gibberish on examination (a caption for a drawing of a beetle: "Dangerous. Unite to form Devastator. There is no you").

For more on Huizenga (and other St. Louis comic book artists and writers), take a look at this RFT feature from 2007, "Pen & Inc." Or just go over to Star Clipper and buy the damned book.

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