Written by Alisha Weinberger
Imagine being dumped in an alien landscape, populated by alien humanoids. Now imagine these humanoids had a culture; TV, music, pop culture, or what if they had comics? Would they be similar to our own sense of a comic book? What would these comics be like? How would they read, assuming you could even read them? We tend to have a very shared and strict idea of a what a comic’s structure and narrative continuity should be. But a comic book is not a genre, it is a medium. And like any artistic medium, from time to time, certain individuals will come along to pick the medium apart. Matthew Allison turns it on its head in his self-published book Cankor.
I honestly cannot fully summarize what Allison’s book is about, because it dumps readers in the aforementioned alien landscape, beckoning them to just figure it out. But from what I gather Cankor centers around an a faceless humanoid entity (or “cyborg” as Allison describes him in the first book) named Cankor dwelling in an insanely surreal world alongside similar beings. Some of these beings are his friends, others beat his head into a twisted bloody pulp. Sometimes Cankor isn’t one but many, a hive mind of protagonists, constantly dying, changing, or being reborn.
Allison writes no singular story arc or theme.Cankor will shift gears from cosmically existential to a parody of the superhero to a self-deprecating autobiographical account. No matter what Cankor chooses to be in between pages or panels, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The juxtaposition of calm and brutally violent panels paired with fourth wall breaking dialogue is darkly slapstick and comedically macabre. This all could only be executed by Allison’s visceral art style. His landscape and character design lies somewhere between Dali and Cronenberg. Each panel oozes and melts, drowned in a palette of muted phlegmatic purples, greens, and flesh tones. The art of Cankor is deeply disturbing and nauseating. And I say this with love and admiration.
Allison self-referentially pushes the boundaries of the comic book both in narrative and in aesthetic. To truly appreciate a comic book sometimes it’s necessary to deconstruct the medium itself. Due to its frenetic and fluctuating structure, Cankormay not be everyone’s cup of tea but everyone should try it. If not for the story then for Allison resonating art style. Fans of bizarre scifi such as The Maxx or Aeon Flux should pick this up. Cankor currently has two books available for sale, the first is Cankor and the follow up is Cankor: Calamity of Challenge. Although it is not necessary to read either book before the other, I did prefer the first. Matthew Allison is self-published, if you are interested in his insane series, it can be found here: cankorcomic.com