Welcome to Parkour Panels, a weekly web comic dedicated to the idiosyncrasies of the Parkour community. This project rose out of my efforts to observe, document and understand Parkour, its icons, philosophies, contradictions and the people who dedicate themselves to the discipline. As I practice Parkour and talk to other practitioners I learn, form opinions, and make connections and observations that I want to share. But how do you state your opinions without being preachy and long-winded? For me, the answer was comics.

Parkour Panels is a collaborative project. Many of these ideas are not mine. They come from fellow traceurs and traceuses. I add my humble skills as a comic maker to their stories and observations (as well as making a few of my own) to bring out the ironies and humour that saturate daily training. I lurk in internet forums and community hubs, learning from the flame-wars and discussions that occur there. I ask direct and occasionally confrontational questions and, often, get frank and thoughtful replies. I throw in moments from my own training, snippets of funny conversation, and personal moralistic rants. So far, the feedback has been good. If I can capture something that a traceur recognises, pinpoint a current argument or issue in the global scene, or re-create a moment or a sensation experienced in training enough for the comics strip to resonate with another practitioner then I’ve done a good job.

The more I see, the more I am astounded by the universality of the PK experience. Parkour is a truly global phenomenon. Despite the vast differences in the politics, philosophies, cultures, aims and localities throughout the various Parkour communities I come across, there are always the similar experiences. Some things all traceurs seem to ‘get’. It is those things that I hope to portray. The Parkour Panels are full of community in-jokes and specific references. That doesn’t mean we always agree. The global scene is rife with debates. I wear my perspective on my sleeve, and welcome arguments and challenges. Those arguments are also great comic material. The interesting thing is, even those that disagree understand my perspective enough to take particular stances against it. That can be more telling and interesting than compliments and affirmations.

A big thanks and much credit must be given to the APA (Australian Parkour Association) for hosting my comics and allowing me unrestricted ranting rights – even when I’m clearly taking stabs at them. Not once has my work been held back or edited. Lots of thanks to everyone who takes the time to train with me and share their perspectives. You guys make these comics possible, and your ideas keep them honest and balanced in ways I alone would have never managed.

See? THIS is why I should stick to comics.

–        alex pavlotski (Pava)

alexpavlotski@yahoo.com.au

P.S. For all the fellow eggheads out there: these comics are a part of a PhD ethnographic research project.