Endman by Karissa Sakumoto out on Cold Cube Press now
Endman by Karissa Sakumoto out on Cold Cube Press now Jasmyne Keimig
Reading Portland-based creator Karissa Sakumoto's book Endman is a bodily experience—which is strange to say about a work on paper. Endman is one of the latest releases from Seattle risograph press/publisher Cold Cube Press, dropping earlier this February. The 24-page book seems to occupy a space between reality, the page, and a digital landscape. It reminds me of the graphics in a video game. The way the scenes and images are curated together lends itself to the book's almost unstable existence in your hands—you at once feel like you are in it and observing it happen from another stratosphere.

“What I wanted with Endman was to not really make a complete story, but like these disconnected dreamlike bits where it sounds more like the narrator is speaking to herself than to the reader,” Sakumoto tells me over email. “Or, like, you are watching her but you feel like you shouldn't be there.”

A page from Endman
A page from Endman JK
The plot loosely follows a character named Karen who Sakumoto describes as a “bland white lady that works a corporate office job, who is always fearful and distressed in this cartoonishly ‘female’ way despite the fact that she's the only one that exists in the world.” She appears to the reader as a poorly rendered 3D figure who awkwardly occupies intimate spaces like her living room, the bathroom at work, the subway. Her breasts are made of huge cones. Her hair sits on her head like a bad wig. She gets texts from sexbots.

Despite all the pretty mundane things Karen is doing—resting at home, popping a pimple, riding the subway—there is a disembodiment to it that feels familiar. Reading it, I’m at once Karen, watching Karen, watching someone watch Karen, being watched myself. At a bar last night waiting for my friends to arrive, I felt the gaze of a man sitting across from me. I glanced up. He was staring, openly watching me like it was his job. I thought of Karen as I looked down, concentrating on the beer foam in front of me.

Detail from Endman
Detail from Endman JK

In semi-private public spaces like the bathroom where you look into the mirror at yourself and your appearance, or catching your reflection in the dingy subway window against the backdrop of the other riders, there’s this realization of the encroachment of a gaze, the male gaze. In our email exchange, Sakumoto quoted to me a section from the best bit of John Berger’s Ways of Seeing:
"A woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself. Whilst she is walking across a room or whilst she is weeping at the death of her father, she can scarcely avoid envisaging herself walking or weeping."

Endman inhabits this thought in a way that captures the weird disembodiment and self-policing that comes from being a woman in our society—but in a punk, fuck you attitude I appreciate.

On the back, Sakumoto includes a quote from the S.C.U.M. Manifesto by Valerie Solanas—a text written by a radical feminist who tried to assassinate Andy Warhol in 1968. Sakumoto admits that many of Solanas's beliefs are pretty outdated in the context of conversations we have about gender now, but the viciousness of it, the extremist character to some of her speech, fit thematically within Endman. "I wanted the book to look mean," Sakumoto said.

You can pick up Endman at Cold Cube Press. It's also available on their website.

The back cover of Endman
The back cover of Endman JK