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Kinski #4 is here! Five months after the release of the third issue, the wait has finally come to an end; the next leg of Joe’s tension-filled journey has arrived. The transformation from sales rep to dog thief has been a terribly sloppy one, and at this stage it’s looking likely that our “hero”—a term I use lightly—will have lost both the dog and the job before this minimalist yet suspenseful series reaches its conclusion.
Joe has an obsession. Kinski, or Bosley as he’s more commonly known, is the object of that obsession. The titular K-9 is the great Magoffin of this tale, and there seems to be nothing that Joe won’t do, won’t sacrifice, to call the slippery pooch his own. When we last left off, Kinski had run away at a rest stop. When Joe chases him over a mound, only the find that on the other side of that mound is a crowd of RVs and commuters large enough to fill a small city, he begins a frantic search. Frank, Joe’s last remaining ally, helps reluctantly.
Once again, the tension and suspense that Gabriel Hardman manages to fit between these pages is remarkable. There’s a fat dark cloud that hovers over every circumstance and occurrence in this book. It’s Joe’s decision-making and discretion that make for so many cringe-worthy moments. Issue #4 took it to the next level by bringing violence into the mix. He isn’t just seeking this dog with terrifying persistence; he’s doing it with reckless abandon, with total disregard for who he hurts, or infuriates, in the process.
And that includes Frank. Frank seemed so determined to stand by Joe through the thick and thin. When their boss demanded that they leave Kinski, seeing as flying with him would be a burden, Frank agreed to rent a car and drive with him. Unfortunately, seeing as he’s only human, his patience with Joe receded fast. In what resembled the tendencies of a sociopath, our protagonist wasn’t content with just dragging his own career through the mud. No, his wild goose chase put Frank’s career on the line as well. As a result, Joe was abandoned in this issue. Now he must navigate these rocky waters all by his lonesome.
Gabriel Hardman is nothing if not consistent with his storytelling. The pacing in this issue, despite the rise in the stakes and suspense, is as steady as it was from the beginning. The events contained within this rest stop are small yet significant. Joe is now without Frank or Kinski, and has no vehicle with which to catch up with either of them. I also appreciate how much action he manages to convey through images alone; Kinski is a very cinematic comic book.
Hardman is the sole creator of Kinski—so yes, he draws it too. I’m a huge fan of the artwork. At first glance, being black and white, it gives the appearance of a rough sketch. Take a closer look, however, and the level of detail is impeccable. The majority of the detail goes into the people, so even from afar, you’re never mistaking one character for another. As I already pointed out, the dialogue is minimal. Therefore a good portion of the story is told through action alone. Kinski is a good old-fashioned comic book, and if you’re an aspiring cartoonist, you could learn a hell of a lot from Hardman’s narrative techniques and the ways he’s able to move the story forward without any words at all.
So as usual, Kinski is on point. The next issue will have to answer a lot of questions. How much farther will Joe go to acquire Kinski? Will he try to steal him again? I don’t usually like to make predictions, but seeing as that dog is the title character, and Joe appears to no longer be bogged down by the shackles of employment, I expect he will pursue Kinski with more ferocity than ever.