Review: mini kuš! #29 – Remember This? By Disa Wallander

The kind folks at kuš komiksi, the Latvian comics art anthology, recently sent 8 of their most recent minis and I’ve been poring through them in my small moments. The kuš minis seem perfect for those in-between moments, but despite their small stature (each full color mini is 4”x6” and clocks in at 24 pages), these books pack an intellectual wallop. This is especially the case with Disa Wallander’s contribution, Remember This?, a microtreatise on memory and confusion.

Wallander sets up Remember This? as a call and response – pages generally go in pairs, the first being drawings of plants in a bright red with a text narration, and the second a litany of small blue people superimposed on a watery blue background. Wallander’s call is often a statement of fact or a question about memory or past lives; the response is often a collection of puzzled, meandering non sequiturs. Some distract from the main point – Wallander, in a sampled page here, says “It’s scary to think about all the things you’ve experienced that you can’t remember,” which is cut and frayed by a little blue person’s drunk antics from the night prior.

Remember This? discusses human memory, how our brains are rattling with the things that sometimes get lost in the dark only to be called out be a smell or a sound. And in real life, this is something  close to the truth – based on the way the brain works, when we remember a memory, we are remembering the time we last remembered it. But why do we remember things at all? Do we try to set them to memory over and over until they’re locked into our very being? Or do we let them well up, unbidden? Tapping into that confusion makes a fertile ground for discussion.

In a way, Remember This? feels referential to Freud’s super-ego vs. the id, as the super-ego battles with the abstract while the id talks about being wasted and holds up someone with a gun. Another reading is perhaps the artist vs. an uncomprehending world; or even the artist’s memories vs. her own experience in the making of art. But the comic is also existential, speaking of how humans exist only when someone is thinking of them – that old idea “you live until everyone who remembers you forgets” comes to mind.

The synopsis of Remember Me? Tells us that perhaps it’s best not to think about these things, and to be frank, I’ve been struggling with this comic since I originally read it. Knitting the comic’s discussion of memory together with its deflecting and sometimes idiotic characters has proven a challenge. But I think that the obtuseness of Wallander’s work is central to its beauty. You might be a bit puzzled after reading Remember This? – and perhaps that’s the point.

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Disa Wallander (tumblr: disawallander)is an illustrator and comics artist. Wallander has interned with Peow Studio, a Swedish comics publisher, has had work featured in the Bimba anthology, and has also been published by Jazz Dad Books (tumblr: jazzdadbooks) .

Kuš komiksi (tumblr: kushkomikss) is a Latvian comics publisher that in addition to its kuš and mini kuš comics has a goal to promote and develop comics culture in Latvia and feature Latvian cartoonists. You can see more of their books and buy a half-year subscription to their titles at their website.

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