Fantastic Life by Kevin Mutch
“Fantastic Life” by Kevin Mutch is set in the author’s hometown in Winnipeg, Canada, depicting punk rockers, sexy geeks and philosophical zombies – all your quirky weirdo’s sloopin’ and pukin’ at parties, hanging out eating donuts in diners. The idiosyncrasies of the characters sit in inline with Daniel Clowes “Ghost Town”, or perhaps closer to the plot (as this is set in Kevin’s art school experience) with “Art School confidential” and has some interesting theoretical underpinnings added to the mix. Mutch cleverly parallel’s left wing cultural theorists with popular punk. Everybody is discussed from Jaques Derrida’s deconstructionist theory to Hugh Everette’s many worlds interpretation as he questions his own drug-fuelled sanity. He knows his art theory too – neatly displaying the idea of appropriating images and projecting them into new meanings, at one point drawing a wild crescendo of conceptual art with an art student blowing his brains out onto a canvas. Who needs Greek tragedy at the theatre when you have comics like this!
Mutch ploughs on through the brain blowing and thought thinking scenes of his youth, through the art classes, bar fights, and finally into the real crux of the story; his motivation to write and draw. In the story Mutch fundamentally portrays how he felt so alienated during his youth. He firmly states in his introduction (perhaps with a tongue in his cheek) that he was not smoking weed back then (!) but his imagery says otherwise, namely the nightmares of Zombies eating his intestines. If he wasn’t smoking, he sure has a wild imagination!
Later on in the story he reveals his ‘classic loner artist personality’ to link with the primeval fear of being attacked by other males (hence the dreams of Zombies eating him), which brought my thoughts to why the ‘cartoonist as loner’ trait is so common in the comic book world. There is a certain breed of great comic artists; Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, Alison Bechdel, Glynn Dillon, Adrian Tomine, who all seem to have a kind of ‘outsider’ personality syndrome. Perhaps you do naturally get look in on what’s going on between the different groups of humans as an outsider – and for better or worse these impressions end up in comic books. It s true, all these guys (and Alison Bechdel) have some anti-hero itch that needs to be scratched through scribbling with a pen – giving a good ol’ scratch of the reader’s insides at the same time. Without sounding to intestinal, this is exactly why this graphic novel is certainly for the better. Its multi-layered content, fresh and bold line illustrations and well thought out characters – all form together to create a classic unica. It is without shadow of a doubt an original read – especially if like me you are into the freaky alternative. Plus this comic was also included in the 2011 ‘Best American comics’ guide, and won a prestige too, ‘the Xeric award” (founded by the guy who created Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)! “Fantastic Life” by Kevin Mutch can be purchased here; http://www.amazon.com/Fantastic-Life-Kevin-Mutch/dp/0977161285, at the blurred books website www.blurredbooks.com or can be downloaded for the ipad at https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/sequential-digital-graphic/id629759394?mt=8
Kevin Mutch is a New York City based graphic novelist, digital artist and painter.
Originally from Winnipeg, Canada.
“Ok well..I guess…to tell you the truth, I guess its about these nightmares I’ve been having.”
128 pages B&W
Published by Blurred Books