THOUGHT BUBBLE 2023! Ria Grix’s The Anomalous Adventures of Viola Holm comics have had some very positive reviews here at Broken Frontier in the last couple of years. Grix’s new comic Kotiin is a very different beast to the eccentricities, non-sequiturs and general weirdness of Viola’s world though. It’s described as “a book about drawing, even if it doesn’t look like a book about drawing”; a soundbite which may sound confusing before you dive into its pages but one that reveals its own truths by story’s end.
This is another of those short stories that requires a reviewer to act with discretion lest they spoil the reader experience. Kotiin begins with a fierce battle in place as we become overwhelmed with the savagery of medieval warfare. It’s an intense, frenetic and visceral sequence where we eventually follow our protagonist of sorts, as they escape the fury of the melee and their true quest is revealed.
Grix’s choreography of the battle scenes is phenomenal, with the splashes of red on black and white visuals bringing the brutality of events to the fore. Shifting perspectives allow us to experience both the plight of the individual and the scope of the carnage. One long shot of the silhouette of a horse falling as it’s descended upon by a horde of soldiers is especially chilling and dramatic while Grix’s clever layouts and panel structures give a feeling of terrifying movement to the ferocity and bloodthirstiness of the proceedings.
Essentially an extended visual metaphor Kotiin is a masterclass in panel-to-panel storytelling that readers can infer their own eventual meaning from, whether it be about the struggles of the introvert, the sanctity and security of drawing, an escape from the furore of life, or whether you want to simply take it on face value. Another essential purchase from UK comics’ best kept cartooning secret.
Ria Grix (W/A) • Self-published, £5.00
You can buy Kotiin from WIP Comics at Table C17 in the Redshirt Hall or from Sofie Dodgson at Table E8 and also in the Redshirt Hall at Thought Bubble 2023
Review by Andy Oliver