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"The Perfect Planet, & Other Stories" [Mar. 4th, 2004|10:39 am]
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Title: "The Perfect Planet, & Other Stories"
Author: James Kochalka
Genre: Graphic Novel
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Like a lucid dream, James Kochalka's "Magic Boy" lives in his own manufactured reality, having a conscious interplay with his surroundings. Only, the unfortunate elf seems not to understand the basic workings thereof, and struggles to grow faster than his mentality will allow. Through each of his interactions, between people, nature, and early childhood memories, the Perfect Planet becomes something not entirely unlike the flawed one in which the readers inhabit.

The title story is teeming with introspection and self-conscious observations, and yet manages to encompass the reader, casting off all pretense. The "other stories," likewise, provide some insight into the surreal mind of James Kochalka without the necessity of a moral, or some form of direct social commentary. Therein lies the intrinsic beauty of a Kochalka graphic novel - the reader is aware of the dangers within their own world, but as with Magic Boy, the phobias come from the least expected places - a flake of newly-fallen snow; a spectral puff of breath on a frosty day; the hidden agenda of a poisonous toadstool; even, dare I say, ourselves?

To become immersed in "The Perfect Planet," it is necessary to suspend all disbelief. We must check our convictions at the front cover, and delve into what's contained therein. And, once the final page is turned, the reader can breath easily once again, regaining that sense of what is real and what isn't. With its large, minimalistic panels, this is a book which can be breezed through with ease. Yet, the ideas contained therein cling to the stems of consciousness, and well into the days that follow.

In this book, James Kochalka is not trying to express a viewpoint or explain some generally accepted idiom. Instead, in an attempt to make sense his world, the information is compiled into a literal new "planet."

And, truth be known, it manages to make as much sense as the world each reader deals with on a regular basis.
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