Saturday, May 13, 2006

Not what it was meant to be

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.

Image from amazon

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.

Image from amazon

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.


I. N. J. Culbard said...
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I. N. J. Culbard said...

Richard Sala's work is wonderful. I regretably only have one book of his, but thanks for posting this because you've reminded me of what I've been missing. Totally agree about the fact that he mines his own macabre humor. Not only that, but stylistically I think he certainly has his own voice.

You most likely already know; he also had an animated slot on Liquid TV (MTV) called Invisible Hands. I wish there were more animated films based on his work.

Great review:)

Jo Bling said...

Look forward to seeing your scans, Paul. Always interested to hear kids book ideas. How weird with the whole Middlesbrough Art College connection, by the way? What were you studying up there?

OK, off for my own dose of comicy Rocketo goodness...

Bada Bling!

paulhd said...

Ah, Invisible Hands, I used to have it on tape fro mwhen BBC2 showed them but it got chewed up. Typical.
Glad you liked the review - I have one of New Frontiers I should finish and post.
Cleveland (Are you ready to rock!?) Art and Design, definitely a small world. I did the Foundation course and went on to do appallingly at Graphic Design.
Colour scans still delayed but I'm going to sort some other stuff out soon, keep your breath bated!

paulhd said...

New Frontiers? No idea what I was thinking there - although I do like Darwyn Cooke. I meant New Recruits of course.