Pleading with Stars, Kurt Ankeny's new collection from AdHouse Books, showcasing his work from 2014 to 2019, maps an intricate constellation of words and pictures. And what pictures! Ankeny can draw. His virtuosity extends to a wide range of tools and mediums: pencils, pens, markers and brushes; inks, paints and watercolors; alone and in combination. These pictures are woven together with various threads of text into a series of stories that fill this elegantly produced 184 page softcover volume, with a pleasing tactility designed to make for an æsthetically pleasing reading experience.
The stories it collects range from the science fiction of "A Bomb" and "The Synthesizer" to the personal philosophical reflections embodied by "E" and "Mother Airplane." The core of the collection is a series of meditations on the mysteries of human behavior: "Gulls," "Between December and March," "Saltwater Snow" and "Dark Desert Dawn." There are, in addition, a handful of unclassifiable 1 - 2 page "abstract and experimental" comics, unique conjunctions of techniques and topics that are highly engaging and will, we think, leave most readers wanting more. If these stories are linked in any way, it is in their searching for, finding and then exploring facets of souls shrouded in darkness and striving for illumination; pleading with stars.