I AM / by Erik Sugay

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I AM is a brief tale about a genius of a man with a talent for robotics and an equal aptitude for miscommunication. The narrative focuses on a simple, but emotional conversation he has with his perhaps most cherished artificial creation. The “About” section that precedes this story details the purpose that this mini-comic serves. Artist Robert Kohr is a man of several creative hats, and 2002’s  I AM is his first venture into the world of comic book illustration. Rather than being a standalone project, it also acts as a detailed storyboard for his 2003 short animated film of the same name. As such, the art displayed here is actually quite decent for what it is. The only (incredibly minor) issue I take with it is the liberal and almost uniform use of wide gap parallel line shading. It makes some scenes feel much too flat and others difficult to follow.

Both surprising and fortunate, the characters themselves have more depth than I would have expected given the short page count dedicated to their tale. Kohr did a great job with facial expressions, detailing the innocent curiosity of the android and the emotional strife within its creator. It is only affecting here, however, whenever it’s demonstrated with subtlety.

For the most part, it’s successful, but for a single page, all nuance is dropped.  The creator explicitly tells the android what you would already know if you were paying the slightest bit of attention to the previous few pages. Normally, I’d have a problem with this, since you can clearly see his tentativeness and caution at getting too attached to his creation that his understated, but poignant action on the preceding page is much more emotionally valuable than the words he says.

However, it is exactly those candid words that actively spur the developments of the rest of the story. The creator’s words were a warning to his creation (and were intended as a harsh insult), but he was reluctant to explain their meaning to her. As such, she understood the words in a third, more hopeful way that would eventually lead her down a path with outcomes unexpected by both characters.

The naïve android happily succeeds in her misinterpreted goal, but the consequences of doing so make for a bittersweet end.

TL;DR: In this first mini-comic from artist/animator Rob Kohr, a man clings to his past and pushes away what’s closest to him, opening up the possibility of losing what’s most important to him. Again.

I AM is written, illustrated, self-published and, ultimately, animated by Robert Kohr. You can view the animated short here. It’s much easier to follow than the monochromatic comic book and, while the ending is similar to its print counterpart, it offers a more cohesive tale by discarding the last few predictable pages. 

A free review copy of I AM was graciously provided to Spandexless by the creator.