Eric Kostiuk Williams’ comics are visually defined by their malleability. His forms shine like latex and stretch like taffy, and his stories take place in surreal, psychedelic environments that morph as time passes. That fluid visual aesthetic ties into major themes of his work like gender expression, queer culture, and urban preservation and development, all of which involve people and places in a constant state of change. His new book from Retrofit, Our Wretched Town Hall, collects a variety of his short comics and illustrations, spotlighting his signature style and his skill at telling stories full of emotion and atmosphere in a very short page count.
This exclusive preview of Our Wretched Town Hall, on sale November 21, features two short comics, an illustration, and a page of concert poster lettering, each revealing a new aspect of Williams’ artistry. The first story is an abstract, autobiographical exploration of identity and community, with Williams depicting himself as an amorphous form that winds and slithers through a party. The second is a graphic adaptation of a speech given at Toronto’s Videofag art space, enriching Keith Cole’s words with visuals that experiment with color, geometry, and three-dimensional composition to accentuate the spirit of innovation fostered by this local cultural hub.
The page that gives Our Wretched Town Hall its title shows a building in six very different states of existence. It’s a strong representation of Kostiuk’s artistic sensibility, and even the most traditional image of a town hall (the top left panel) adds an element of elasticity to the structure as columns and windows bleed over the corner of the building. In other panels, the town hall is airy, weathered, slimy, oily, and burnt. Nothing is ever in stasis, and that idea is reinforced in the Videofag comic, which looks at how art and culture transform a little white cube of a storefront space into an expansive landscape of imagination and possibility.