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posted July 2, 2008


Creator: Marko Turenen
Publishing Information: Daada, softcover, 416 pages, 2008, 19 euros
Ordering Numbers: 9789529920181 (ISBN13)

This book is a lot of fun. A collection of ten comics spread out over 14 years in the life of cartoonist Marko Turenen, Supernormal supplies its readers access to a dizzying array of approaches, everything from oddball, child-voiced superhero nonsense to abstract alternative iconography executed with a visual twist. It's like a summer's worth of comics reading that you can hold in your hand, Big-Little Book style. Some are more effective than others, or rather, none of them cohere in the kind of way that pushes one to the forefront. To be honest, it's probably the re-drawn kids material that's the most memorable for the daffy evocation of child's logic and a young person's approximation of adult dialog. The world view that pours out of that series of super-violent, relentless confrontations has all the recognizable cruelty that one can see in any game of Capture the Flag, and actually feels more realistic in its fevered arbitrariness than the genre-conscious film stylizations that fuel American corporate superhero comics product.

My favorite material in the book is probably the quickly drawn, almost overly clever minimalist gag cartoons that run under the title "The Bear and the Mouse." That stuff isn't just frequently funny, its lack of conceptual depth makes these the only cartoons in this very thick book where one feels a conspiratorial conviviality emanating from the cartoonist. It's almost like the other works were Turenen playing his recorded work for you on a loudspeaker and this one is the cartoonist playing guitar over on the couch while you sit there eating Cheetos. Even the end notes are entertaining in this book, and if it's completely forgotten in six months it's a work that one might find pleasurable company for the week or two while it's being read. If we all lived in Hicksville, this is the book we'd see all over the place this holiday weekend, being devoured on buses and keeping folks company at breakfast.