Writer: Benjamin von Eckartsberg
Artist: Thomas von Kummant Ablaze
Ablaze, December 2019
GENERATIONS MATTER even in the midst of apocalypse as in GUNG-HO watching two teen-age brothers in orange prison jumpsuits arrive at a remote camp called Fort Apache in the midst of monster territory on a rickety train with a jittery guard to meet a corrupt administrator and his thugs, a fair woman chief, and a bunch of kids about their own age: Hey ladies, I’m a sexy beast! This theme rises: I got it, I want it, I got it, I want to give it to you. Hum a few bars to get in the mood and look for the subtle sign when a mouth slips into a lingering smile. Then discover what’s out there eating people.
The story by Benjamin von Eckartsberg and artist Thomas von Kummant, both from Germany, appeared in German and French editions, and is now running in English through 2020 in seven or so issues so far with multiple covers. The artwork looks a bit like sunburnt pastel wallpaper, with inhabitants floating by casually in real time, making the panels flicker into life behind your eyelids like a cinerama. Looks like a book when you start, and turns into a movie.
Morning comes and the world is still here, paused outside the war zone. Time to buzz, baby. Scenes between kids and adults resonate in familiar wavelengths weaving through each other, barely touching, the kids intent to move, the adults intent to harness that energy to stay alive and keep this place going. They recognize we built this ourselves, preserved and scrapped and surmounted everything for this, that’s the only reason any of it exists, and this place without our attention and yours next is doomed. Pay attention! Or, as an insightful book by substitute teacher Cinque Henderson (2018) puts it, sit down and shut up, so we can help shape you into powerful human beings who can fight the enemies confronting us, threatening our existence, that you do not yet know. Get ready now for all of us.
I support this adult message, asking for discipline and self control before education can stick to achieve a mental condition where reason and science and practical realities can say no to what you think, and shape your destination. Yet I also thrill at the gung-ho attitude of the kids, unafraid, heedless, foolish, determined.
Rebel, where you going? Will civilization survive you? Or will you be around long enough to make a difference.