Kindergoth #1, 2003, Bloodfire Studios
writer: Lee Kohse
artist: Jeff Zugale
With Dateline NBC buzzing in the background, the Drudge Report and the initially accused's LiveJournal fresh in my browser's history, and my mind finally wrapping itself around today's tragic events at Virginia Tech, now more than ever I'm grateful for the brief respite of comic books. The evil plots of comics' supervillains and mad scientists are only two dimensional, and ultimately, the good guys usually win. For all of the accusations that law enforcement could have done a better job, for all of the presumptions that the gunman was some Asian blogger recluse, no one is going to win this one. The lack (or restraint) of information is going to keep the bloodthirsty public in a media-fueled rage, and the families of those poor victims in mourning. Whatever you do that preserves your hope for humanity -- prayer, meditation, fellowship with friends -- do it now. Me, I'm trying to operate business as usual. I'm reading a comic book.
I had intended to read Kindergoth today regardless of these current events, but something about the title's implied synthesis of school and solemnity appealed to me on many levels. Of course, I thought this comic would be a Hot Topic farce, similar to titles like Serenity Rose and Bear. Visually, Kindergoth wasn't as seemingly chicken-scratched as those books, those self-styled "goth" stories; artist Jeff Zugale's cartoony approach parallels writer Lee Kohse's light-hearted approach to a potentially lofty concept. Unfortunately, I think Zugale's art loses a generation of charm through the inking process; while his finished pages struck me as bland, I was impressed by his carefully detailed sketchbook supplements -- if only that charm could've been spread throughout this inaugural issue. Kohse's writing is finely patterned, with a punchline at the end of the every page as if each turn were a strip in itself, contributing to a bigger picture. I admit some perplexity at his decision to use a commercially viable concept like Kindergoth to tell a watered down alien abduction farce, but he makes it work, albeit barely. His characters evoke shades of South Park without the crudity or relevance, and although these tykes are a bit too sophisticated to be believable kindergartners, I dig the smart take on childhood overall. I wonder if I'd be as satisfied with the next issue.
Unfortunately, I don't think I'll have time to find out. A Comic A Day rolls on. Still, with Dateline wrapping its impromptu expose on today's events, I realize that some things will linger a bit longer than others. If only life could remain as simple as it seemed when we were in kindergarten, eh?