Kane & Able is an absurd psychedelic anthology from Image Comics

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Shaky Kane and Krent Able are collaborating on a collection of four mind-bending comics that are terrifying, thrilling and fun at the same time.

Shaky Kane and Krent Able are two independent comic book legends known for their quirky senses of humor and distinct artistic styles. The two creators have developed cult models for themselves, proudly exhibiting the visual influences of classic comic book artists like Jack Kirby while using an absurd sensibility reminiscent of Adult Swim cartoons. Image Comics is set to publish a book with two properly titled stories from each artist Kane & Able. Kane and Able’s aesthetic complement each other so well that it’s almost surprising that this is the first book they’ve published together. Fingers crossed, this will not be their last.

Shaky Kane writes and draws the first story “Astonishing Shield Bug!” which features Kane characters Bulletproof coffin in addition to a fictional Jack Kirby and Shaky Kane himself. The story follows a magic pencil in the shape of a rocket that is passed down through generations of cartoonists. Kane blurs the line between reality and invention by including artists and samples of their works in the narrative. This metafictional approach creates a feverish and ever-changing world that is sure to reward multiple readings.

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The second story, “Black Fur” is about Krent Able who tries to overcome Kane’s Shield Bug’s silliness with a strange hero: Black Fur, a giant talking bear with a jetpack – aided by two babies wielding a chainsaw. Black Fur rubs shoulders with Lady Deathroach, who makes people melt with her radio. The fight is as fun and ridiculous as his hypothesis suggests. Much like Kane, Able uses a color scheme that is sure to conjure up comic book memories of Silver Age superheroes. In small hands, this nod to classic comics in tandem with the weird concept could read like a simple parody of the heroic comic book genre. Able definitely makes fun of previous comics, but this story is more than just a parody. It is an exploration of bodily horror and the madness of crowds; two particularly poignant themes in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Shaky Kane returns for the third story of the anthology. “Astonishing Shield Bug! Dustmotes” appears to start in the same house full of comics that appears at the start of David Hines and Kane Bulletproof coffin. A man exploring the house finds a portal to a comic book universe under the floor. The story also refers to the magic pencil from the first story of the anthology. The self-referential nature of the story might make it difficult for readers unfamiliar with Kane’s work, but Shield Bug’s first story provides all the context needed to appreciate it. And, Kane’s raw and energetic lines combined with his soft, brilliant colors will surely welcome readers to his world, regardless of their reading history.

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Able solves the problem with “Creep Zone with Nightmare and Sleepy”. Nightmare and Sleepy are two heroes patrolling a post-apocalyptic world populated by monsters. This story really showcases Able’s talent for character design. The nightmare is at the same time imposing and skeletal. He’s even more intimidating compared to Sleepy, the sheepish sidekick who appears in a traditional mask and cloak. As the two travel through the area, Able tells one sick joke after another, becoming more and more gruesome and rude as they go. The combination of horror and humor is an acquired taste, but Able’s ability to present it in an entertaining way is unprecedented.

In addition to the four stories, Kane and Able sprinkle fake ads and collaborative artwork throughout the anthology. They are enigmatic and funny until the very last page where their artist biography seems to be written in Latin. Kane & Able is a fun collaboration of two of comics’ wildest imaginations that will delight and potentially intrigue longtime fans and introduce new readers to the worlds of Shaky and Krent.

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