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Crude Ink 01.25.08 | Pizzeria Kamikaze

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pizzeria_header.jpgWhat happens when a seemingly normal girl discovers comics through her geeky new boyfriend? This column! It's the world of comics from a fresh, outsider perspective in this new ongoing feature. This inaugural edition takes a look at the title that started our author on the road to comics fandom: Etgar Keret and Asaf Hanuka's graphic novel adaptation of Keret's own short story, and the basis for the 2007 indie flick Wristcutters: A Love Story.

 

 

Hi, my name is Terri, and I'm new here. I mean really new. Until a few months ago, I thought comic books were relics from my parents' childhoods (and occasionally the basis for an easy Hollywood hit). I didn't know there were such things as "graphic" novels. I'd heard of anime, but only just enough that I was convinced anime fans must all be weird boys with an abnormal preference for cartoon boobs over the real kind.

Then the impossible happened: I started dating one of those boys. Not just a casual fan either—this guy had rooms full of books and anime movies. I'll admit I was a little bit disturbed the first time I saw his apartment, but the boyfriend—let's call him "Boy Wonder"—was kind enough not to force any of it on me. I repaid the favor by keeping my love of the mall to myself (and I'm sure he was grateful, too), and we existed in this mutual denial quite happily for a while.

I would probably still be ignoring Boy's comic collection if not for one serious tearjerker of a movie preview. I happened to run across the trailer for Wristcutters: A Love Story online, which looked like one of those weepy, surreal, this-is-the-afterlife movies that I am such a sucker for. I decided pretty much immediately that I had to see it, and now. Unfortunately for me, the closest theatre playing the movie happened to be in Indianapolis. Figures.

But according to Boy Wonder: "Eh, I think I've got the book."  I was psyched to read it too, until he dropped a comic book in my lap. Pizzeria Kamikaze was not what I was expecting—all in black and white and silver, and full of creepy pictures, but I really wanted to know what the story was about, so I picked it up and started reading...

The cover to Pizzeria Kamikaze.Pizzeria Kamikaze begins with the funeral of a self-absorbed young Israeli man named Mordy. Depressed after his girlfriend leaves him, he kills himself hoping to end the pain—instead, he wakes up in a world "just like [his] own, but a little bit worse." Mordy finds himself working in a pizzeria and associating with other suicide cases—some with the bullet holes still in their heads! Eventually, Mordy hears his love has also killed herself, and leaves town with another pizza boy to hunt her down. Along the way they meet a couple of interesting people, including a self-proclaimed Messiah King.  

This book is an interesting look at one man's take on the afterlife, with an elaborate set of regulations the dead follow, but it is sadly short on plot. At the end of the book, I felt like nothing was really resolved—and it left me on edge, but I suppose it's only right that a story about Purgatory should not only not have a happy ending, but should have no ending at all. I imagine Mordy and friends were feeling pretty tense, too.

I have no such complaints about the artwork, though. Obviously I'm no expert on comics, but Hanuka's pictures are beautiful but eerie, all done in black and silver to distinguish the afterlife from the real world. He captures that look of apathetic resignation pretty well, too.

So I guess I have to confess I liked the darn book. I never would have picked it up myself, but once I started it, I couldn't put it down, and I should mention I felt no need to track down the movie once I finished. However, I would caution against using this book to introduce your significant other to comics—it was a little bit disturbing for someone who is new to the medium. I mean, who are you really going to convince to read a picture book about suicide? That said, I was persuaded to try again, and I might just be back to give my opinion on a few other things I find in Boy's apartment! | Terri Gudowicz

 

In this edition:

Pizzeria Kamikaze (Alternative Comics, 2006)

100 pgs. B&W; $14.95 softcover

(W: Etgar Keret; A: Asaf Hanuka)

Learn more at the Pizzeria Kamikaze page at IndyWorld.com!

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