Xia Gordon (CREATOR)
I first discovered Xia Gordon at the 2017 Toronto Comics Art Festival where I saw her beautiful artwork and included her in my Comics Creators You Should Look Out For list over at Book Riot. It was some breathtaking stuff and I filed it away in my brain, waiting for when I’d have the opportunity to read and/or experience her work.
Kindling stood out to me when browsing 2dcloud’s latest fall offerings and I immediately requested it. I interpreted the story as a woman who has joined a group on an island. It’s there when she experiences an emotional journey (and a physical one too) that leads to a body transformation, a form of ultimate devotion.
It’s been called an abstract comic but it’s not really, not completely. There’s a narrative unfolding but if the lack of clarity is what makes it abstract then it deserves the title. It’s a bit muddled. It’s like driving through rain and seeing enough to know where you’re going, but having enough doubt that you sneak a prayer, hoping you’ll get to your destination.
That’s not a dig at the comic at all. There are standout pages in it that truly gripped me: the use of the blue and red as lines and shadowing, the panel sizes (and pushing past their physical boundaries), and the ease of the line work are fantastic (see above). However, there are pages that have me scratching my head. From pages 11 to 14, the character decides to give themselves entirely to something that requests a personal transformation and for four of these pages, there are a series of just blue and red lines with no form or clear purpose to them whatsoever. I’m not opposed to formless lines but I did find the pages to go on for too long, losing the feeling it built up and leaving me confused on the whole point of it. The lines finally start to take form gradually on pages 15 and 16.
My hesitation when it came to writing this review was the possible assumptions people would have about my reading preferences. That I’m not someone who would appreciate the abstract and would much rather enjoy obvious narratives. There’s a class element to this that automatically has me on the defense, as someone who wasn’t particularly fond of Shakespeare and therefore told I wasn’t equipped to have an opinion on literature.
Kindling revealed a lot about myself as I read it five, six, seven, eight? times. I think the abstract should make you feel something and for a lot of the comic, I did. I just think some of those pages mentioned above should have been axed or some how pushed the feelings that Gordon wanted to convey. It’s a good comic that just didn’t reach greatness for me. I definitely want to see more from Gordon and there’s nothing abstract about that fact.