Lovely to be back on air with Richard Watts last Thursday morning on his weekly Melbourne cultural roundup 'SmartArts' on 3RRR, 102.7 FM. I join him for the monthly 'Drawn Out' segment, on which we discuss local and international comic book news and releases.
First up this time was 'The Book of Other People' (Penguin 2008), edited by Zadie Smith - a collection of 23 stories by tippety-top writers (including Smith, Nick Hornby, Miranda July, Jonathan Safran Foer, Colm Toibin, Johnathan Lethem and Dave Eggars) - and it's a benefit book, so some of the money goes to Eggars' 826NYC which helps kids to get reading and writing. As Smith says, it's a case of 'real people making fictional people work for real people'.
Each story's title is eponymous (does that work the other way?) and I'm writing about the book here because, in the great McSweeney's tradition, there's comics in them thar words, folks: in this case 'Justin M. Damiano' by Dan 'Ghost World' Clowes and 'Jordan Wellington Lint to the Age 13' by Chris 'Jimmy Corrigan the Smartest Kid on Earth' Ware. Folks, the Clowes 4-pager alone is worth the price of admission. Although I gotta admit, I was loaned the book by my mum after she discovered the comics floating amidst her sea of text. Thanks Mary Anne! Sorry illiterate urchins of New York City!
And hey there's an exhibition of installation comics work on upstairs at Brunswick Bound, the great bookshop at 361 Sydney Road Brunswick. 'Der Stadtschaftschaubild' is a made-up German word made up by Alice Mrongovius, who has also made the works- she reckons it means something like 'the cityscape diagram'. Mrongovius is a fine artist and a comic book artist (and the one does not preclude the other, of course) and in this show, on until March 21, she is expanding the comic book form into installation art and then making a comic from that.
Occasionally, just ever so occasionally, you get something from the work Kris Kringle that you actually really like, in fact sorta blows your tiny mind, but it's gotta be said that that person who has gotten it has usually blown the cut-off point for the money that you're supposed to spend. So it was that, back in December, I received the above book. (Thanks Biana!)
Thomas Ott is Swiss and has been doing these wordless scratchboard comics, as well as caricatures for mags and newspapers over Europe way for some time. (Selected titles: 'Tales of Error', 'The number 73304-23-4153-6-96-8' oh yeah) 'Cinema Panopticum' (Fantagraphics, 2005) is a 100 page hardcover book of 4 short wordless stories framed by a narrative of a little girl going to the fun fair with too little cash. It is a quite remarkable, grostesque, hilarious book, which also performs the moebius-strip trick of actually transforming itself into one of the terrifying Cinema Panopticum machines. Incredibly satisfying.
Another comics exhibition is on in town at the moment: MP Fikaris' show 'Good Sauce' features drawings paintings and a new comic booklet from this local master of the dada/beat/art comics form. It's at Nine on Seven Artspace, Level 7 Curtain House 252 Swanston Street in the city, until February 20, open 7 days 2pm until late.
And in the spirit of last-but-worth-waiting-for:
Linda Foote is from Perth, is remarkably 24 years old and is even more remarkably, not an animator. I could have sworn when I picked up this gorgeous A5 mini at Sticky, that she must be an animator, given the Miyazaki feel of the story but also the incredibly assured quality of the artwork. Harder still to believe, this book is a 24 hour comic (ie, produced in one straight 24-hour stint) - though Foote does let us know that the shading on the drawings came later. This book is a masterpiece of pacing, a glorious example of a comic in which nothing happens. well when I say that, of course things DO happen, it's just that the emphasis is almost totally on the relationship between the creatures (friends? brothers?) Devan and Shaya.
This book is very fine, builds a beautiful world, and leaves you with the feeling that you want to spend more time there. Congratulations to Linda on constructing such an enjoyable comics reading experience, and I look forward to reading more work by her.