Nothing can beat the constantly evolving comic book genre when it comes to developing great new anti-heroic characters or misunderstood villains. A Toronto based production company called Pop Sandbox was in the midst of documenting the views of the infamous Igor Kenk, just before the world started to change in the Summer of 2008. First Kenk was hauled in by the Toronto Police, along with his enormous cache of bikes, and related junk. Then our entire credit driven society started to feel the sagging effects of what happens when an artificially inflated economy loses the pressure of Mass Consumption, as it’s cash flow dependent pumps were starved of their imaginary funds, and unable to be re-primed at sub-prime rates.
During this same time, Sandbox had already been hard at work filming the daily mini-drama’s that surrounded Igor Kenk at his Queen West bike shop. Starting with the raw footage of these candid interviews, Sandbox has taken their pure/documentary approach to the subject and synergised not just Igor Kenk the man, but his whole distorted world, into a self-told story that will be expressed with the integrity and realism of of a journalistic comic book. Not only are Sandbox (& Assoc.) daring enough to go way out into dangerous traffic by representing the the much despised “Igor the Terrible” in their multi-modal production, but they’re also going to be following in the great and progressive tradition of the genre by also innovating the look and content of the venerable Comic Book format itself. In this case, they’re basing both their text and the illustration entirely in the meticulously transcribed interview footage that they shot of Igor during the year leading up to his arrest, and treating the story with the integrity and verity of a Journalistic piece.
True to the ever growing and evolving roots of the “graphic novel” format, Sandbox seeks to distinguish itself as a meaningful innovator in genre through both it’s story subjects, and it’s presentation. A goal that will be achieved via the inventively hybridized graphics of their illustrator Nick Marinkovich, who has drawn his imagery directly from the photographic footage of Filmaker Jason Gilmore. This raw documentary feel will then be sculpted with the written work of renowned Writer-Journalist Richard Poplack, who also represents a potentially evolutionary force on the genre as he applies the realism and depth of feature form journalism to what promises to be a hyper-realistic rendition of the ever-changing comicbook format.
See candid photos of Kenk, and read some reactions from the recent Book Launch Party by CLICKING HERE to pop-up a retrospective review of the evening…
The term “graphic novel” (or the more apt term “graphic novella”) is itself a descriptor that seems to still be in flux, and remains open to challenge or re-interpretation, especially by those who believe that it’s simply a marketing driven descriptor which the almighty comicbook has no real need for – other than to validate a higher price point perhaps. These and other signs of constant change are well-evidenced by of the many Writers and Illustrators in this literary format as they experiment with not just the labeling of the genre, but also in the flow and layout techniques, visual styles, illustration methods, and even in the publishing mediums used to convey the Artform. It becomes clear that the cross-platform delivery of multimedia formats which characterizes Pop Sandbox productions seems not only perfectly suited to Richard Poplack’s specifically progressive outlook on Writing, but also serves as a great example of the spirit of daring innovation, and counter-cultural change that graphic novels have come to represent in general…At least to Fans of the genre.
n terms of pushing boundaries with this particular project though, it seems that Poplack is not the only innovative force as he seeeks to at least honor, if not revive, the long-format detail and higher journalistic standards from a bygone era that valued feature-length peices, over micro-fragments of quickly digested gossip fodder. Through his stylistic preferences, Poplack will likely offer a rarely seen depth of character development, that will certainly help distinguish the work of Illustrator Nick Marinkovich’s innovative new graphical treatments of Alex Jansen and Jason Gilmore‘s imagery through their production of this graphic novel (erm, “portrait”) about Toronto’s infamous Igor Kenk, and the police-led dismantling of his reign of anarchy on Queen West. Via Jansen’s production, the depth of Poplack’s written exploration of both Kenk’s character, and this highly graphic artform, could quickly dive down in a daring journalistic foray into the underbelly of our seemingly well-ordered Society. One where we all might all possibly risk learning abit more about ourselves than we’re ready to accept.