Do you like bright colors and queer ladies who hit people? Well then do I have a treat for you.
Kim & Kim chronicles the misadventures of a pair of Kims, one the daughter of a legendary bounty hunter, and the other a washout from a long line of probate necromancers trying to make a go of it on their own and doing about as well at it as you did when you got your first apartment. But with more shooting and aliens than you’ve dealt with, hopefully.
I’m not sure whether it’s ironic or poetic, but I’m loving the fact that a comic about a pair of women who seem to be really adept at making bad decisions have as their writer Brian Visaggio, who bills himself as a part time philosopher and ethicist. So far there’s just the ashcan debuted at NYCC 2016 to go on, but from that brief and wondrous glimpse into their world Kim and Kim seem to be graduates of the same Do the Right Thing in the Very Worst Way school of thought as Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s Harley Quinn or more pertinently, the protagonists of Cowboy Bebop.
Visaggio definitely embraces Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo creator Shinichiro Watanabe’s loose attachment to genre conventions by merging a day glo interpretation of punk aesthetic with a futuristic science fiction setting. The dialogue is upbeat, the colors are bright, and the action is loud. There’s not a trace of the dystopian gloom that suffuses just about every conception of the future since William Gibson’s Neuromancer. There’s evidently still a time and a place for dystopian cyberpunk, like Empty Zone, but Kim & Kim is here to give the finger to the idea that it all has to be like that in much the same way that Kurt Wiebe and his team on Rat Queens threw off the suffocating self seriousness of fantasy storytelling.
The core to what makes Kim & Kim so much fun and brings the unique aesthetic to life is the art team of Eva Cabrera and Claudia Aguirre. Cabrera’s figures are fun and expressive, communicating all the necessary character beats without a single word needed. Similar to what I pointed out in the first issue of Clandestino, there’s a clear sense in Cabrera’s layouts of how the shape and size of the panels should be used to communicate the overall feeling and pacing of a story. The ashcan opens with wide, cinematic panels to build suspense for the villain and tightens into claustrophobic, angular ones when the action kicks into high gear as the Kims chase down a bounty.
Aguirre’s colors wrap the whole thing up in a very shiny, very sparkly bow. The key to a comic like this, that has a very loud, agressive identity isn’t to flood the page with all kinds of neons or complementary colors, but to bring them to the forefront when needed and recognize where another tactic is needed. Again, going back to the opening pages, the colors are subdued and mostly in brown hues to build up the villain and don’t open wide into the bright colors until the Kims appear for the action sequence, then dials things back incrementally when the pacing slows again. One of the smarter choices is moving between out of focus backgrounds and flat colors to emphasize emotion, and Aguirre handles it well. In one particular three panel sequence, she moves from the wood panelling of the restaurant to a bright yellow when Kim D gets upset with Kim Q, but instead of going right back to the brown of the previous panel, which would have been a pretty ugly clash, she employs an orange gradient to ease things back down. Smart, subtle work.
The NYCC ashcan may be, rightfully, sold out but keep your eyes peeled because there’s bound to be more Kim & Kim soon and you should leap on it whenever and wherever it materializes.
Written by Brian Visaggio
Drawn by Eva Cabrera with colors by Claudia Aguirre
Letters by Zakk Saam
Emma Houxbois is a fiercely queer trans woman from the wilds of Canada, most recently spotted in the Pacific Northwest. She is a two time IWC Women’s World Champion and has written about comics for the web since 2005 for sites including Playboy, Bitch Media, and Graphic Policy.