Things about Katie

I’m listening to Chromatics and reading black and white, a collection of self-portraits by Katie West.

I really do mean reading. Katie’s created a set that has this visual language somewhere between prone victim and complete control that feels pretty extraordinary. It’s a more ‘honest’ autobiography than most I’ve read, be they diary comics, books or blogs, and a huge step up from the erratic low self-esteem collection (which I liked, but didn’t love).

(slightly NSFW photo at the bottom of this post by the way)

Chromatics’ Night Drive feels like the right soundtrack. It’s fabulously fake, a score to a film that doesn’t exist, coated in mood music and sequenced to take you on a journey that’s part TRON and part Slackers. Noir for those suffering future-anomie.

Katie’s one of the internet’s hyper-connected bright young things, existing for readers in a place between Toronto and everywhere. I met her at San Diego Comic Con, the most unreal experience of my life to date, where days of blistering sunshine and nights of all-the-booze made four days of conversation feel like a tell-all confessional. The view from the hotel room a bunch of us shared looked onto a warren of ducts and shipping containers, the convention hall itself some chaotic cartoon market. It was completely overwhelming, and the end of a very long journey that I really needed to take.

Nanoka, Katie’s MagCloud collection with fellow traveler Jack Scoresby, served to emphasise the SUPERFUNPOP parts of the Katie I’d met. It’s a riot of colour and artifice, this overblown reaction to the madness of Japan condensed into 88 pages of gloss-pop. It’s a hell of a ride, and manages to be sexy and hilarious in the space of a shutter click. Nanoka’s visual language felt like a cheerful Blade Runner, and inspired quite some envy.

black and white doesn’t. black and white is too sad to be sexy. It feels like the emotional hangover of pop. It’s a book about the reason I keep using ‘somewhere’, ‘like’ and ‘between’ to describe it; a collection of moments that bridge the journey between comfort and adventure.

It’s really moving for that, particularly when shadow and focus come into play; as a monochrome collection it works at its best when the deep hues stop you seeing all, when the focus forces you to project your own context, the complete opposite of Nanoka‘s SUPERFUNPOP. I really love both, and they compliment one another fabulously.

Get a copy. Start the year with it. Make something as good in the following twelve months.

black and white: 5 of 76 by Katie West

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