Sunday, March 05, 2006

Protest by Alex Lukas

Protest isn’t your typical stapled mini-comic. It’s a folded piece of legal-sized paper that doubles as its own envelope. I’m always intrigued by what I get from Alex, because he never shies away from making a simple form a leap of faith.

You open Protest to find two policemen rushing towards a subway tunnel. At this point, it feels like a regular mini-comic – it’s mini-comic sized and the action shot of the police is a two-page spread against a white background suggesting open space. Then you unfold the paper again, and it’s a four-page spread stretched out flat of dozens of policemen, some of them in riot gear, rushing down several sets of stairs into the subway tunnel. Now, you’re looking at a standard letter-sized piece of paper, except it’s a little shorter vertically.

The action has escalated and the art feels denser, the background has switched from the open space of the street to the cramped staircases that lead to the darkness of the subway tunnel. There’s a sense of urgency as the policemen rush towards the tunnel opening.

You unfold the paper one last time and it’s a rush of images. Riot-geared police are running down a tunnel, but citizens and protestors await them. The sense of urgency rises as a protestor launches a Molotov cocktail at the riot squad. The riot squad shoots a canister of tear gas, and then your eyes travel from left to right to discover what the clash is all about.

This is an impressive piece of art. Alex has really figured out how to direct your eye to the action of the story, and Protest works almost flawlessly as a short story. The transition from the street, to the stairs, and into the tunnel is rendered so well that it creates a feeling of space for the reader.

Go to the Cantab Publishing website and check out the books section. You’ll find Protest there for $2. Yes, it’s just a legal-sized piece of paper folded down and mailed to your doorstep, but it’s worth it. Trust me. This is an edition of 50 to start with, so get off your ass and get your copy.

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