Tag: M.K. Perker

Comics for Grownups Episode 21

by on Aug.21, 2013, under Comics

Comics for Grownups Episode 21 with Alex Rothman is now out on iTunes. Direct RSS link for Android users here. In this episode we briefly discuss the upcoming Comic Arts Brooklyn show in November, and then review: 

Beach Girls and Dweeb by Box Brown and James Kochalka

Trillium #1 by Jeff Lemire

Lose #5 by Michael DeForge

A33 by Josh Burggraf

The Outliers by Erik T. Johnson

It Will All Hurt by Farel Dalrymple (available online at Study Group, but you should buy it anyway)

As You Were: A Punk Comix Anthology #1by Silver Sprocket Bicycle Club

Todd, The Ugliest Kid on Earth vol. 1 by Ken Kristensen and M. K. Perker

Rex Libris by James Turner

Alan’s War by Emmanuel Guibert

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Insomnia Café

by on Nov.13, 2009, under Comics

Insomnia cover

It’s almost not fair for me to review Insomnia Café, by Turkish illustrator M.K. Perker (best known as the artist for the highly successful series Air). It pushes too many of my buttons: it’s about books and being up in the middle of the night. You might think this would lead me to love it automatically, but in fact I’m more worried that the things I don’t love about it are nits I’m only picking because it invites me to get to invested in it too deeply.

Peter Kolinsky, the main character, was once an expert appraiser of handwritten manuscripts. Then he helped some gangsters fence a stolen book, got caught, and lost his job. He also testified against the criminals, so now they’re after him, or at least one of them is. He stays up all night drinking coffee and visits the Insomnia Café for “lunch” every day at 3 a.m., where he flirts with the waitress. This makes him late every morning for his current job, which he hates.

The gangster who’s after him is named Oblomov, explicitly after the eponymous main character of Goncharev’s 19th-century comic classic. It’s a strange choice, since the conceit of Goncharev’s book, as I understand it (having not read it), is that Oblomov is so lazy he no longer gets out of bed at all. The gangster Oblomov here is active all the time. I guess there’s some kind of irony intended with the theme of insomnia, but it seems to me that if you’re going to make a comparatively obscure literary reference it ought to do more than provide some free-floating irony.

Anyway, Oblomov insists Kolinsky must do one more job for him as payback for his betrayal, and when Kolinsky refuses he batters Kolinsky’s nose with repeated head butts. Kolinsky tells his sob story to the waitress, who brings him to a place called The Archives, where every partially written book in the world is housed, magically, until its author finishes it. Perker is aware this is a familiar idea: Kolinsky mentions Richard Brautigan’s The Abortion, where the main character curates a library of unique works never published, all donated by the authors. Closer to home, he might have mentioned Hicksville, by Dylan Horrocks, in which a secret library holds the unknown comics written by the 20th century’s greatest painters. Or perhaps James Turner’s Rex Libris, whose library contains all the books ever published. Or the infinite-monkey library in Borges’s “Library of Babel,” or the registry of all persons living and dead in José Saramago’s All the Names.

All of these stories, though, accomplish something Perker does not: they pursue the idea of the library past its initial premise, exploring its implications. Perker does little of this apart from having Kolinsky decide to steal an unfinished Salinger novel to placate Oblomov. In fact, Perker short-circuits the idea and at the end suggests Kolinsky has been not just delusional but dangerously mad all along.

In short, Insomnia Café is full of intriguing ideas—persistent insomnia, a waitress writing a book on insomniacs, a coworker who’s a compulsive liar, a highly active gangster named after a legendarily slothful nobleman, Kolinsky’s job, and the library itself—none of which gets enough attention. Plus Kolinsky comes off as a massively self-centered asshole, and it’s hard to like a book when you don’t like the main character even a little.

I did like the drawings. We often see action from odd angles, and characters make small shifts from one post to another over many panels.

Previews below the fold.

(continue reading…)

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