THE BLOG AT THE CROSSROADS
Posted: April 27, 2013
June is busting out all over with top-notch, class-act comics, once you’ve hunted down deep for those sparkling needles through the teetering haystack of product on offer. Old and new, reprints and debuts, English-language and translations from The Netherlands (SelfMadeHero’s graphic biography of Rembrandt by the underappreciated Dutch virtuoso Typex, above), Italy, France and Quebec, plus some actually interesting Superman products, all sit side-by-side in this shortlist of my top tips.
As part of his promotion for his new series Lazarus for Image Comics, American writer Greg Rucka calls for “more books about more things, not the same books about the same things with a new coat of paint.” Spot on. It is encouraging to see creators like Rucka break away from ‘legacy characters’ and branch out to originate projects of their own. The only snag is that ‘creator-owned’ does not always equal ‘creative’. All too often these scenarios sound a lot like familiar genre fare or wannabe movies or TV series. In North American comics, spectacular leaps in ambition and achievement have been made by former mainstream artists-turned-complete authors - like Seth, David Mazzucchelli or David Lapham. Whereas these sorts of leaps don’t seem to happen quite so often, when it comes to mainstream writers ‘breaking free’ to pursue their dreams. They may be subject to publishers’ demands for commercial fan-pleasing material, and of course the need to pay those bills, but perhaps sometimes they also set limits themselves on their own creative liberty. Dream braver and bolder please and really deliver “more books about more things”.
For inspiration, here’s some more evidence of that exuberant diversity which is already out there. Read the rest of my PG Previews for June 2013 here…
Posted: April 20, 2013
See you at Central Saint Martins today! All free 11am to 7pm, and tickets available from Box Office for Battle of the Eyes/Trevor Jackson ‘Noise Of Our Art’ performance 7.30-9pm!
Posted: April 16, 2013
The latest issue of the Outsider/Brut/Folk/Naive/Intuitive/Visionary Art magazine Raw Vision, #78, cover-features ‘Letting Out The Id’, an extensive profile of American artist and comics creator Mark Beyer, based on recent e-mail correspondence with him by my late good friend and fellow connoisseur Les Coleman. You can read and see an extract here. Available now for $15/£8/15 euros.
Posted: April 14, 2013
Lest we forget. A generation of British people has grown to adulthood free from the shadow of Margaret Thatcher, so none of them can remember, and not all of them understand, what she did, what she stood for and what she continues to inspire to this day. Amid the current eulogies and hagiographies (the above American comic book bio from Bluewater Productions came out in July 2010); amid a celebratory party in Traflagar Square and an imminent state funeral; amid the media clampdown and Labour restraint on any outspoken views, prompting stinging commentaries from the likes of Morrissey and Glenda Jackson; amid a miner’s mother’s recollection of her surprise on visiting 10 Downing Street at her coughing son being given a throat sweet by a kindly prime minister; it’s instructive to look back (in anger?) at how comics and comics creators, in particular British ones, took on ‘The Iron Lady’. Read the rest of my survey here…
Posted: April 9, 2013
For their ever-expanding parallel universe, Schuiten and Peeters set each story in a different, often isolated city, rigorously ‘terraforming’ a coherent continent on a steampunk-esque ‘counter-Earth’, rotating exactly opposite ours and so invisible from our Earth. Their metropolises come with their own beliefs, visions and anxieties which they use to allude to and comment on our own. They channel many cultural references, such as the fin de siècle futuristic imaginings of Jules Verne, who appears in person in the series, as well as the ingenuities of Jorge Luis Borges and the existential terrors of Franz Kafka. Schuiten’s draughtsmanship is exquisite, his meticulous linework reminiscent of Fine Art engravings, his colouring equally evocative.
Schuiten and Peeters construct each fresh urban space along distinct designs and utopian ideals but taken to thought-provoking extremes. Architecture becomes allegory. Their characters’ lives often become dominated, even overwhelmed, by the extraordinary ‘psychetectures’ they are forced to inhabit. Schuiten’s interest is in a “character caught up in a system. And how an environment constructs us, reveals us or destroys us. The organic links the city forges with us, fractal links which form between very small and very large things. Comics and architecture are perfect tools to address these ideas.” Read the rest of my Article here…
Posted: April 7, 2013
I recently gave a lecture and tutorials to students at the Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) and was impressed by the talents developing there. To discover them for yourself, check out their Words & Pictures: Illustrated Narratives Exhibition which launches today, Sunday 7th April from 3pm to 5pm, and continues from Monday 8th April to Sunday 14th April. It’s free and open 9am to 5pm daily at the Bournemouth International Centre, Exeter Rd, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH2 5BH.
Organised by The Egg Den, in association with AUB, the exhibit showcases a range of work submitted by AUB students of various courses. The narratives exhibited vary from short stories, sequential illustrations and poetry. Each written piece is also accompanied by equally varying artwork, each produced using a variety of media. In the words of the organisers, “The aim of our exhibit is to explore and promote the idea that storytelling through narratives can be enhanced with visual imagery. Storytelling is a concept inherent to the history of all cultures. Narratives as a form of communication have become more sophisticated over time. They can be used to express and convey through art, what would not be possible otherwise; giving us new perspectives.”
Posted: April 3, 2013
Recently featured as graphic novel of the month in The Observer and also seen gracing the pages of the latest ArtReview magazine with a new two-page introductory strip, Montague Terrace by Warren and Gary Pleece is published by Jonathan Cape on the 4th of April. To coincide, Warren and Gary will be signing and launching their book at the brilliant Dave’s Comics, 5 Sydney St, Brighton BN1 4EN on Thursday the 4th of April from 6-8pm.
Come one and all and delve through the lace curtained cover to discover a world of magic bunnies, nervous magicians, third-rate 60s pop-crooners, Special Ops OAPS and much, much more. What’s more, each copy bought on the night will be specially defaced by a special limited edition of one doodle-scrawl by Warren! Expect the usual enlightened (?) back-chat from the Pleece’s, original artwork on display, cosy-toed ambience and an endless supply of Ki-ora or other similarly refreshing refreshmentation. Copies of their previous graphic novel, The Great Unwashed from Escape Books will also be available for purchase.
For those of you living in and around the big smoke, The Pleece Brothers also be signing copies at the Forbidden Planet Megastore, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8JR on Friday the 12th of April from 6-7pm. And they’ll be signing too on the Jonathan Cape table at the Comica Comiket at Central Saint Martins near King’s Cross, London, on Saturday the 20th of April.
Posted: April 2, 2013
The city’s state-of-the-art theatre was packed to the rafters for this year’s Awards Ceremony at the 40th edition of the Angoulême International Comics Festival, the Cannes, Frankfurt and Mecca of worldwide comics wrapped up in one, held from January 31st to February 3rd in south-west France. On stage was a rock band playing appropriate tracks for each Master of Ceremonies Jean-Pierre Dionnet, co-founder of seminal magazine Métal Hurlant, as each Prize was announced.
Bristol-based Jon McNaught (above) couldn’t quite believe it when he scooped the Revelation Prize given to a first-time published author for the French edition of his exquisite duet of poignant tales in Dockwood from Nobrow. And the Special Jury Prize went to the translation of Glyn Dillon‘s The Nao of Brown, originally from SelfMadeHero - too bad that Glyn had already gone back to London. Read the rest of my report here…
Posted: March 30, 2013
Three years after its acclaimed opening in the Sablon district of Brussels, Galerie Champaka sets up home in an additional gallery space in Paris, in the Beaubourg district, close to the Centre Pompidou. At 67, rue Quincampoix in the 3rd arrondissement, an area of 150 square metres will be dedicated to the sale of original art from comics.
To celebrate the opening of this Thalys axis of the Ninth Art linking Brussels and Paris, both locations present two complimentary retrospective exhibitions devoted to the work of Ted Benoit, one of the founders of the New Clear Line, which emerged in the late 1970s. One hundred original pages and large-format art prints make up this retrospective of an oeuvre in constant renewal, entitled Towards The Clear Line and Back Again. Opening first at the Galerie Champaka Brussels at 27, rue Ernest Allard : April 17th to May 5th 2013, then opening at the new Galerie Champaka Paris : April 19th to May 18th 2013.
Posted: March 24, 2013
From a classic Franco-Belgian all-ages comedy by the creator of The Smurfs to the eagerly awaited debut graphic novel by the winner of the 2010 Observer/Cape/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize (Stephen Collins’ amazing The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, above), the month of May 2013 brings another bountiful harvest. In translation, my suggestions take in creators from as far afield as Germany, Norway, Japan, Austria and Hong Kong, while the English-language choices include new work by major creators like Jim Woodring, Alan Moore, Paul Chadwick, Neil Gaiman, Gilbert Hernandez, Jim Rugg, C.F., Matt Kindt and Gary Northfield. I hope you find something among them to tickle your fancy! And to get your hands on the first pre-publication copies of The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil and get them signed, come to the free Spring Comica Comiket on Saturday April 20th at Central Saint Martins near King’s Cross London. Also signing will be Mark Stafford with his chilling adaptation of The Man Who Laughs and Gary Northfield with his dino-tastic new Teenytinysaurs book! Read my PG Previews for May 2013 here…