Sunday, June 19, 2005

Lewis Trondheim

Seeing as I was just waxing lyrical gibberish to Danny about this in an email it's about time I declared my love online.
Lewis Trondheimis a comics GOD! Through sheer force of will he has become a master of comics, starting out with very basic skills and quickly (thanks to the unbelievable volume of work) growing in ability through hard work and practice. Trondheim's artwork is clear, charming, well observed, quirky and self assured, his writing even more so, but even better than that all that his ideas are excellent. Unfortunately although he's very big in France (where he's from) far too little of his work has been translated into English. Fantagraphics released two McConey collections, The Hoodad and Harum Scarum, both hooked me immediately, lot's of beautifully observed witty dialogue and two very funny and smart stories. The Nimrod, Fantagraphics regular(ish) sized Trondheim b&w title presented a different side to Trondheim, in fact it presented several different sides showcasing amazing work from autobiographical to silent slapstick humour to experimental shorts. Despite great reviews the respect of excellent fellow creators and rabid fans like myself sales just didn't come and Fantagraphics commitment to Trondheim backfired as the expensive they went to in presenting his work in the manner it deserved meant they lost even more money. NBM gave Trondheim a go next and released two b&w US format titles. Oddballz (bad title!) had poorly designed covers and featured two stories per issues this meant breaking down the one off stories (think TinTin or Asterix) into 4 parts, none of which had particularly natural breaks. Dungeon was better, NBM concentrated on 1 story at a time meaning the original stories were only split in 2. Contents wise both comics were great, the translations were solid and although the new lettering used a slightly annoying 'quirky' font it worked quite well. Unfortunately NBM halted both titles promising Oddballz would return in a few months and then quietly forgetting about it. Luckily NBM haven't given up, Dungeon was released in very nice collected formats that are smaller (about the manga size) than the original albums and slightly small than the US format reprints but were back to full colour (far better than the grey scaling used in the comic versions) The new format works quite well and they plan to continue translations in this format with a new one due in a few months. Astronauts From the Future for Oddballz was also collected in this smaller full colour format, sadly none of the other Oddballz stories have been collected yet. This is a shame as although AFTF is brilliant I'm a big fan of the other stories which featured Trondheim'srabbit character McConey. I'm hoping that NBM or Fantagraphics will release Trondheim, Fantagraphics are still obviously fans considering how much space they've given over to him in the pages of TCJ, but in the meantime I'm thinking it might be an idea to learn french and just buy the original books, Trondheim's worth the effort.

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