Lok Zine 5

Written and Illustrated by Alessandro Ripane, Valentine Gallardo, Margherita Morotti, Matteo Farinella, Laura Kenins, Jacopo Oliveri, Aaron Whitaker, Felix Bork, Elisa Caroli, Lorenzo Mo, and Salvatore Giommarresi
Published by Lok Zine

A collection of short comics from a publisher in Italy shows that the language of comics is universal, with stories that range from personal moments to reminders of digital society to abstract pieces that show a wide range of alt-comix work.

Long-time Panel Patter readers know that I am a big fan of reading comics from other countries when I get the chance. So when the folks at Lok Zine were kind enough to pass this along to me, I was extremely excited. Here was a whole new realm of comics I hadn't experienced yet!

Now, though I love reading comics from all around the world, I am not even bi-lingual these days* so I was wondering how I might approach this one. Fortunately, however, the comic itself is bi-lingual, being written in both English and Italian. One of the neat things about it is that the work switches between English with Italian footnotes and Italian with English footnotes, putting both audiences on an equal footing. I don't think I've ever seen that before.

So what kind of anthology is Lok Zine? Well, to some degree, it fits in that world where Mome used to be, namely a place that has interviews, alt-comix, and some really strange things you'll either like or hate. Though in this case, the comics themselves aren't quite as polished--and that's not meant as an insult. As a general rule, I'd put the comics themselves more on the raw edge of things, willing to take chances and not overly worried about form or meeting some visual standards. Here's a real old reference point for you: Think Blood Orange** and you're about at the right point.

With that in mind, let's talk about a few of the highlights, at least for me. My only complaint is that it was hard to piece together the credits, so I apologize if I got something wrong:

  • Valentine Gallardo's story features a young woman feeling very unhappy at a club, where her inner thoughts finally burst out to confront her decision to hang out there. With some great visuals, like a bunch of men dwarfing her to represent discomfort, this one touches on something we've all felt--going along just to be nice. FOO does a nice job with making the characters look different form each other and tell us a lot from their eyes and body language.
  • IDigital by Matteo Farinella is a look at how companies use cookies and other information and the possible implications for us. It's not condescending in tone, either, which is a nice touch of base. It would make a great fit as a special addition to Matt Bors' The Nib comics selections. The style is akin to a newspaper op-ed, with some nice layouts that aid in the presentation of information and keep it from feeling like a textbook.
  • Hermaphordite's Story by Jacobo Oliveri has the look and feel of an old Box Brown comic, with lots of shapes interlocking together to form images. The backgrounds are various patterns, with the old Greek legend told across the pictures. There's even a chance for readers to decide the true ending of the story.
  • Crisi by Elisa Caroli is only two pages, but there's a lot going on. A woman discusses how she's unable to know who she truly is, then faces the fact that there may be a better version of herself. The images that go along with this one are very creepy, highlighting the woman's duality among thin, ephemeral lines and an ending that's just her eyes, starting out at the reader. Scary!
  • Childhood by Lorenzo Mo closes things out on a lighter note, as a set of childhood friends imagine themselves with superpowers. Each one thinks they can top the other, but when it's time for the last boy's turn, reality intervenes. The boys all look different, and the images of their transformations are handled differently. I really liked the blurred inking on this one, giving it a bit of a dreamy feel. A nice way to end the anthology.
Lok Zine 5 also comes with a short mini by Salvatore Giommarresi that was a little more on the extreme side than fits with my taste, but is very much in keeping with the spirit of the magazine and its mission. Overall, this was a great look into the European alternative comix scene. I'm really glad I got a chance to read it, and I hope to be able to read more of the publisher's work in the future. Those who enjoy the rougher edge of the comics spectrum definitely should check this out, if you can.

You can go to Lok Zine's website here.

*I could probably read a Spanish language comic book, but that would take a lot of effort.

**Anyone else remember Blood Orange? Hard to believe Jeffrey Brown, Mr. Star Wars Kids Books***, used to be one of their contributors!

***I couldn't be happier for Jeffrey for getting that gig. It's just miles and miles from where I first encountered him, ya know?