"Kuzimu: Volume 1" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by 215 Ink
Written and Illustrated by Brett Uren
2012, 194 Pages
The events after one's death are a big question mark in our world. Different cultures have created numerous beliefs over the years, from heaven and hell to nirvana to zombification. In East Africa, they believe in Ku-Zimu, a forgotten world of spirits plagued by war. Sounds really cheery. Author / artist / creator / very busy man Brett Uren has crafted a story around this idea. Pt'eros is a traveler stuck in this place and forced to confront the events of his life to get through death.
I know this not because of the comic, but from the comic's trailer. While the idea is great, it's not easily communicated in the book. Any piece of media, whether it's a movie, TV show, book, or comic should be accessible without any prior knowledge. Kuzimu doesn't meet that criteria. If I didn't see the trailer, I would have a real tough time understanding what's going on.
The story itself is presented almost like poetry. Pt'eros' thoughts spill out like a long, free range poem. These words are over images that can best be described as a fever dream. You ever see Beavis and Butthead Do America? You know that scene where they're in the desert and Beavis starts hallucinating? That's what came to mind when reading Kuzimu. This is a good thing. The art is bizarre and epic and a little frightening. Although it's based on this East African belief, much of Uren's art looks like it was influenced by Mexican and South American culture. There's a very Mayan feel to some of the creatures that pop up in Kuzimu.
The journey that Pt'eros goes through is one of pain. The poetry-style narration is an interesting one, but it hurt the overall book as it was difficult to get the concept across. Uren's artwork makes up for that a bit. If I were to drop acid, Kuzimu is the kind of book I'd like to read while tripping.