|© Tom Kaczynski|
The singularity of the comics compiled in this volume is also reflected by the particularities of the editing of the book itself. The (graphic) novel starts with a graphic summary in the form of a Carthesian diagram (a subtle reference to Rem Koolhaas' and Bruce Mau's seminal S, M, L, XL, on the transnational architectural office OMA) which traces the spatial and temporal coordinates of each story, anticipating and revealing a bunch of surprising narrative constellations, while in the last pages the author offers a list with the names of people, objects, concepts, movements and theories that are somehow referenced throughout the books, including links with a pleyade of cultural references ranging from Le Corbusier to Doctor Who.
All this is packed within a brightly colored cover that greets the reader with a miniature cityscape which extends up to the horizon under the oppressive yellow sky on top of which the title words are written. However, this reduced cityscape is made of the semiotic detritus of a the nowadays globalized architectural imaginary: an accumulation of fungible space and apparent sustainability punctuated by architectural icons from the past and the present.
As in Schuiten's and Peeters' Brüsel, Kaczinsky's model-scale city is also walked through by weird giants: technicians in white coats that inadvertently cause wreck to the buildings while busy at measuring and taking notes. Meanwhile, in the center of the scene an anthropomorphous skyscraper arises, literally gutted. Showing the ambiguous relationship between man and his built environment, the cover image aptly summarizes the content of the book. It is also its counterpoint: the strong colors of the outside are toned down in the inside, reduced into a single-color spectrum of different tones that change in each story, harmoniously enriching and enhancing (amplifying) the original black and white art, occasionally tarnished by dot-pattern graytones.
|100,000 Miles © Tom Kaczynski|
|The New. © Tom Kaczynski|
|Million Year Boom © Tom Kaczynski|
|976 Sq. ft. © Tom Kaczynski|
|The New © Tom Kaczynski|
These are just three examples of the kind of stories collected in Beta Testing the Apocalypse, a book with an elegant and agile format, immediate in its communicative ability, and extraordinarily dense in its content. An essential reading.
Tom Kaczynski, Beta testing the Apocalypse, Fantagraphics, 2012
|Music for Neanderthals © Tom Kaczynski|
For more information on the book, Klaus suggests visiting The Morton Report's review of the book, which features an interesting interview with Tom Kaczynski. Another interesting read is Democratizing Objects: A Discussion with Tom Kaczynski, published by Nick Hanover in The Comics Bulletin, and, of course, the interview by The Rumpus, which also features the first three pages of Million Year Boom. Some previews of the book can be found in AQNB, which features the complete Music for Neanderthals story, and in Amazon's page.
I also suggest to keep an eye on Tom Kaczynki's publishing label Uncivilized Book and his charming Trans Atlantis Tumblr.