Review by Nate Derr
I’d hate to describe Josh Burggraf’s A33 as “Dr. Seuss on acid,” but it’s hard to think of something more fitting (and to be clear, I mean that in the most positive way possible). The only thing missing is the good Doctor’s brilliant wordplay, since A33 is (almost) completely wordless. A collection of one-page, self-described “quiet comics,” A33 provides some fascinating disorientation, and is, simply, just really damn cool.
A33 takes you on a journey to bizarre alien worlds (or maybe it’s just one; it’s hard to tell) filled with sometimes humanoid, sometimes not-so-humanoid creatures, and a stunning variety of shapes and colors. It’s hard to call the comics in here “stories,” but they’re not unrelated pictures, either. Some of the pages have little to no traditional narrative structure (a few are variations on a single frame, but they’re no less interesting), but even in those cases there are some sort of links between the panels, whether it’s thematic or visual. But for most of the comics, there seem to be loose narrative threads with characters performing…actions.
It sounds vague, and it is, but I never got the sense that anything was sloppy. On the contrary, it seems like Burggraf knows exactly what is happening in these indecipherable worlds, and is choosing to omit key information. Whether this is actually the case, and there are concrete stories here to decipher, or not, it’s a strong testament to his presentation skills. Burggraf’s choice to use a different palette of 4 or 5 colors for each page gives each story a unique feel, and his color choices are really striking in many cases.
Something with this little narrative structure certainly isn’t for everyone, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn’t be impressed with the intriguing art on display here. If the loose stories were just an excuse to draw really cool pictures, that would be totally ok.
P.S. – According to Burggraf’s Tumblr, A33 will be out-of-print soon, so if you’re interested then get it while you can!