Kenk: A Graphic Portrait

Alex Jansen, Richard Poplak, Jason Gilmore and Nick Morinkovich (Pop Sandbox)

Kenk is an ambitious book---perhaps overly so. A journalistic graphic novel about infamous Toronto bike thief/ mechanic Igor Kenk, arrested in 2008, the book began as hundreds of hours of documentary footage. Producers/authors Alex Jansen and Richard Poplak turned it into a comic through an elaborate process of photocopying and drawing onto film stills. Jansen and Poplak have created a detailed biography of Igor Kenk, but Kenk’s notorious thievery often feels peripheral to the pages after pages of him talking out his ass about pretty much everything. Readers won’t muster up any sympathy for Kenk. It’s hard to know how to evaluate the book: This isn’t really a comic---it’s a documentary film elaborately put to paper, or a non-fiction book illustrated in dense black ink.