Daily Graphic Novel Recommendation 16

Infinite Kung Fu

by Kagan McLeod
Genre notes: kung fu theater, zombies
464 pages
ISBN: 189183083X (Amazon)

This series is a service to potential comics readers. That means i'll recommend great books even if I don't particularly care for them, knowing that they'll be the perfect books for some people who aren't me. You can always trust me on quality and craft. And this a book brimming with both.

When you discover that Infinite Kung Fu is a hybrid of martial arts adventure and zombie stories AND you have acquired the sense that neither genre interests me, you might wonder that I could have been induced to pick it up at all. I wonder myself that I ever gave the book a shot. Still, it’s well-regarded and there was quite a bit of excitement over its publication. And with good reason: it’s a fantastic, amazing book—that I didn’t happen to love simply because the genre is just not my bag.

Creator Kagan McLeod has an evident love for the genres in which he’s working. Infinite Kung Fu‘s world is overrun by undeath and only the masters of good kung fu can defeat those of poison kung fu and return life and balance to the land. Every page is crafted with care and affection. McLeod employs a visual style reminiscent of Chinese brushwork, with the ink tapering off into stranded, nomadic lines of inky gravel. His figures are elegant and abrupt, delicate and angry—so much the better for depicting a beautiful young monk bursting open to reveal hundreds of centipedes. The story elements are deliciously reminiscent of the most gratuitous moments of the martial arts films I grew up on. And in case someone was skeptical, McLeod offers an afterward detailing his own history of martial arts and the Chinese film industry (so far as it pertains to the kung fu genre).

The book is gorgeously printed and painstakingly crafted. It is, so far as any eye can tell, a labour of love. And yet, because the subject-matter was so far outside of my tastes, I couldn’t find myself interested. If McLeod had subverted genre expectations (I mean, beyond crossing Kung Fu Theater with The Walking Dead), I might have found a peg on which to hang my hat. But that wasn’t his goal. This is McLeod’s love-letter to genre. If it could be said without disparagement, I’d describe the book as wallowing in its sources (I really do mean that in an entirely positive sense—it’s refreshing to see someone so un-self-consciously dive into that thing that scratches their itch). For someone remotely interested in what this book is selling—kung fu vs. the undead—Infinite Kung Fu may be one of the best comics ever drawn. Because it really is amazing.

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