Richard Kolkman lives in a peculiar world. It also happens to be our world, mostly. His 32-page collection of comic strips, Things From Nowhere, is a semi-guided tour through the bizarre and the mundane, and the crossroads connecting both.
Kolkman, an Indianapolis-based comic artist who enjoyed a long run with the syndicated strip Big Flat City, uses a meandering writing and artistic style to deliver bits of random history and trivia intermingled in stream-of-consciousness fashion. Things From Nowhere delivers both real-life strangeness (the misadventures of Hitler as an artist) and made-up extrapolations (reality TV reaches its nadir with Big Brother: Illuminati). I"m not sure which of the two is odder. The artwork maintains a balance between whimsy and inexplicable dread, particularly with Kolkman"s penchant for juxtaposing bright and deeply shadowed panels. I can"t quite explain the appeal, but every nugget of information drew me farther on. Stuart Sutcliffe"s standee forgotten in a basement. L. Frank Baum"s original version of The Wizard of Oz. Bill Gates meets his first Apple. Chaos theory distilled into 32 black-and-white pages: Is there a sense of order in what happens when you string random facts together? And if there is a deeper meaning behind Drunk Oscar Orange, do you really want to know it? The whole thing has the feel of the guy in a bar who has an endless amount of trivia on hand and an entertaining way of telling it. You"re not too sure what to do with the info besides apply to be on The Weakest Link, but you still want to listen. Available now at comic shops or via the Web at www.thingsfromnowhere.com.