Wild Children is a comic book that questions the reader’s ideas and beliefs quite intelligently.
We love our funny books (re: comics) here at NH7.in and we spend a lot of our time discussing and generally obsessing about them. We thought we’d share some of our favourite new comics with you on our new weekly feature, NH7 Quick Draw.
Ales Kot’s Wild Children is a mindfuck of a comic. The premise is pretty simple – five “gifted” students have taken control of their high-school. The concept is not as straightforward though. They have guns, they’re holding their teachers hostage, and they’re broadcasting all of this live over the internet. Throughout all of this, they’re discussing a whole ton of faux high-brow philosophy, and how the existence of lies is a lie. That’s the part which makes it a mindfuck.
The comic is widely influenced by anarchist philosopher Hakim Bey‘s descriptions of children, and wild children. The book starts off with an excerpt from Bey’s writings and panels within the comic allude to the quote in the early pages. The attributes Bey gives to his descriptions are very evidently present in the characters, making the writing less subtle but the concepts easier to grasp. Kot is also a reference whore, name-dropping David Cronenberg and Japanese artist Kenji Siratori and then, one of his characters asks the others to stop referencing because they’re dating the comic before it is even out. It’s a meta-narrative or whatever you call it. They’re not breaking the fourth wall because the wall doesn’t exist. Or maybe it does. That’s what the comic is all about. It’s designed to make people question things. The characters seem to be aware that they are in a book, but what is the nature of the book? Are you in a book? Are they in a book? Where do your ideas come from and how do you define things? These are the questions Kot is asking through his narrative.
The hyper-referential nature of the comic can be endearing, because you can identify with the characters without having to go through the trouble of knowing them. “Hey, they’re talking about Cronenberg. I love that guy,” and you think that the characters have something in common with you. The writer, though, does not take your knowledge and his knowledge for granted, leaving little footnotes and asking people to explore ideas and disciplines through notes in the margins, which makes it sort of less preachy and boring. But barring all of this, what really stands out is the artwork of Wild Children. The art is clean, well-spaced and very colourful, spanning various styles and “looks”. It’s probably one of the best designed books I’ve seen in some time, and artist Riley Rossmo’s rough-ish pencilling and use of empty space works beautifully with the dense, loopy narrative. The problem arises with the story. The ideas presented in the book are seemingly contradictory and unsure, even though the conviction with which they are presented is pretty strong. The ideas themselves are not satisfactorily presented, but then, reactions to ideas are often marred by personal prejudices, so, my reactions might not be your reactions. When dealing with ideas and ideologies, only the person being presented by the ideas can decide whether they choose to accept them or reject them, and this is why you should definitely read Wild Children. There are very few comics that really ask a reader to question their ideas and beliefs and the few that do, we shouldn’t let slip.