After his anti-Semitic creation awakens in the modern day, an aging cartoonist is forced to confront his past and the dangers of propaganda.
The majority of Karikatur is told visually, starting out in Nazi Germany with a young artist working on a Nazi propaganda poster. His portrayal of “der Jude” elicits everything the Germans were meant to feel about the Jewish people. When that portrayal is brought to life in the modern day, he’s none too happy with his status as a thing of fear and revulsion. Mindful of the events surrounding his creation he intends to confront his maker.
Graham Sisk has created a tone that brings multiple thoughts to mind. Front and cent is the idea of art being made to inform the opinion of those viewing it. We see it all the time, whether it’s the musical score of a movie telling an audience how they’re supposed to feel, to the layout of an advertisement trying to convince us why one dish soap is better than another. In this case, Sisk shows how art can elicit an emotional response and how that power is too often corrupted. Peeling back another layer, I was struck by the metaphor of artists giving a piece of themselves to their work, pouring heart & soul in order to convey their own thoughts & ideals.
Ken Cohen’s part in this is in the way he voices the accusations of “der Jude” when confronting the German artist. Without the luxury of time to spend on building a character, Cohen sticks to the bare bones of it all as the title character asks if his creator still sees him and his people the same way, and refutes the artist’s protests that he was only following orders. This goes back to idea that when an artist really feels a certain way, it’s reflected in their work. The dialogue of their exchange is abrupt, but works within the confines of the pages.
As a stand-alone piece of work, Karikatur is just about as straight forward as a metaphor can get. Not to say that there aren’t layers, or different aspects from which it can be viewed, but coming in at a lean 14 pages of story it isn’t given time to waste. Sisk and Cohen have worked together to create a very poignant comic, with concepts that are much larger than what’s shown on the page. If you can read this one and walk away secure in the knowledge that you’ve never been swayed by media and your convictions have never wavered under that influence, you’re a stronger person than most.
This one isn’t so much a book to be enjoyed as it is a message to be experienced. Karikatur is a look into how art is a dual edged blade that can be used to cut as well as heal.
Final Score: 12/13