Kaput & Zosky

Written by Lewis Trondheim
Art by Eric Cartier and Lewis Trondheim
80 pages, color
Published by First Second Books

There are times where I almost feel like a broken record, but I feel that it bears repeating over and over again—Lewis Trondheim is one talented creator. What always surprises me is how he’s able to switch genres and styles at the drop of a hat, going from serious slice-of-life to slapstick comedy with the greatest of ease. One of his latest efforts translated into English, Kaput & Zosky, falls into the latter category. That said, if there’s one thing Trondheim is especially good at here, it’s being able to skewer modern-day society even when he’s writing about incompetent conquest-loving aliens.

Kaput and Zosky are two aliens who travel from planet to planet in their little spaceship, ready to blow things up and conquer the planet. The only problem is, no matter how hard they try they’re never quite able to get their dreams. Be it something stronger, or discovering that what they wanted isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be, they just can’t succeed. But that won’t stop them from trying again, of course.

At first, Kaput & Zosky seems to fall into a simple pattern; the two talk a lot of smack about how they’re going to take over the world, only to find themselves out-maneuvered, either through strength or sometimes just intelligence. And those stories are fun in their own right, don’t get me wrong; I could cheerfully ready an entire book of those short bursts of silliness. What I really love, though, is when Trondheim’s scripts have an additional layer of humor to them. Having Kaput and Zosky run for president, for instance, has a great nod to real-world elections with the way that people really get the public on their sides. For a book featuring stupid aliens that just love to blow things up, there’s a surprisingly high amount of parallels to our own world.

Eric Cartier draws the Kaput & Zosky strips, although to be honest if I hadn’t seen his name on the cover I’d have assumed it was Trondheim drawing these as well. Like Trondheim, Cartier as a simple, stripped-down style to his art. From Kaput’s two little antennae/ears to Zosky’s shock of red hair, he draws them in an uncomplicated but instantly-recognizable way; it’s that cartoonish, fun sort of way that keeps the stories light-hearted and funny. (If people exploded into a realistic looking splatter of blood and guts every time Kaput or Zosky shot them, it would be a very different book indeed.) Instead, Kaput & Zosky‘s violence is so simple and silly that you can’t help but laugh every time someone or something gets blasted.

Kaput & Zosky also includes several one-page comics both written and drawn by Trondheim titled “The Astronaut” that tell the story of an Earth astronaut and his adventures. They’re a lot more pointed and sharp in terms of making a statement about humanity than the rest of Kaput & Zosky, but they’re a nice contrast to the rest of the book. Each complements the other, making the similarities and differences between the two stand out. In the end, it helps make Kaput & Zosky a really fun, well-rounded book.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com

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