Comic fans everywhere, rejoice! Tomer and Assaf Hanuka’s Bipolar is unlike most other comics currently being read. There aren’t any spandex-clad superheroes fighting crime, or sullen anti-heroes saving the world from destruction. Instead, Bipolar brings us into the brothers’ sometimes diametrically opposed worlds.
The first section, written and illustrated by Tomer Hanuka, is essentially a series of vignettes characterized by philosophical musings. Many of the panels show the action without any dialogue, relying on visual language only to convey Tomer Hanuka’s disjointed vision of a life where neglect and cruelty are ever-present, and where instances of kindness and humanity are almost accidental.
The best part about the series, though, is the second section, titled Pizza Kamikaze. Adapted from a story by Etgar Keret and illustrated by Assaf Hanuka, Kamikaze centers around Mordi, a man who commits suicide after a breakup with his girlfriend and finds himself in an afterworld populated solely by other people who have ended their lives. The people still bear the marks of their death: slit wrists, gun shot wounds, wrinkles from drowning. Everyone is mostly alone here, but sometimes entire families are unexpectedly re-united. Mordi soon learns that his lost love has recently arrived to this world. He embarks on a journey to find her. The dark artwork beautifully helps establish the subtle presence of death, but the story isn’t without humor. Kurt Cobain makes a brief appearance, for instance, and people complain that he won’t stop bitching because everything in this after-world reminds him of a song he wrote.
Keret and Hanuka join the likes of Takehiko Inoue ,Neil Gaiman, and Michael Chabon in creating work that showcases how the comic media can be read as literary fiction. If a publisher decides to release Pizzeria Kamikaze in graphic novel form, I’ll be first in line.