I had planned on posting some artwork, Danny recently reminded me about a children's book proposal I knocked up a couple of years ago (that long? Oh dear) and I decided to dig it out.
Thinking it's about time I started proving that I do occassionally write and draw I though I'd scan the dug out kid's book, sadly although I'm getting the hang of scanning b&w artwork my colour scanning sucks. Give me a couple of days and I'll sort it out.
In the meantime I figure I'll catch up on comic reviews. Unlike the book reviews these aren't in any order, mainly because I've read so many in the last few months (it's my last big spending spree before all the money gets spent on nappies and the like) and can't remember when I read them.
First up is a couple of books published by the always reliable Fantagraphic.
Mad Night by Richard Sala
Buried in archives of this blog lies my fevered musings on the greatness of Richard Sala. And great he is, if you like that sort of thing, and I do. He’s often compared to Edward Gorey and Charles Addams, but he mines his own version of macabre humour. The original title of ‘Mad Night’ (it was first serialised in Sala’s comic ‘Evil Eye') was ‘Reflections in a Glass Scorpion’, a title that screams the influence of Mario Bava. Intricately plotted slasher thrillers are the order of the day here. There’s secret identities, mysterious killers, gruesome deaths, a crazed disregard for logic and plenty of psuedo-psychology, but Sala makes it his own. His artwork for example, an obvious way to draw these kind of tales would be in an EC style, all lushly detailed all the better to appreciate the violence and sexiness, instead Sala works in a quirky, almost woodcut style, with all the dreamlike menace of german expressionism (‘Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’ clearly a major influence) Add a love for bizarre trashy crime and the Sala picture is almost complete.
Mad Night is vintage Sala, it all is, he’s sometimes criticised for doing the same thing over and over again, yet he believes this criticism misses the point, for him it’s an exploration, mining the same influences in a never ending quest to find his perfect story - as he points out, nobody complains that Hitchcock did the same thing.
What I like about Sala is that he takes all these influences and churns then up into something obviously very personal to him. A hard trick to pull off, harder still to make it look so easy.
Meow Baby by Jason
When a new book by Jason comes out I buy it straightaway, don’t care what it’s about or how much it costs, and I knew that’s how it’d be when I finished his first translated book, ‘Hey Wait’. Like Lewis Trondheim Jason uses a anthropromorpihc characters, but they have more in common than that, they both like to play with the formal elements of comic storytelling, they’re as adept with ‘silent’ comics as they are with ‘talking’ ones and they seem to move effortlessly from humour to pathos.
In ‘Meow Baby’ we get to see more of Jason’s funny side, it’s a collection of short pieces and ranges from belly laughs to wry smiles.
Jason and Trodheim share another trait, they’re prolific. Fantagraphics have released 7 books by him in the last couple of years, ‘Why Are You Doing this?’ and ‘Hey Wait’ are good places to start, but you can pick any of them up.