Toiling away in the creative vacuum of my apartment I sometimes need to jolt some ideas into my brain. Like a tired old geezer in the ER room, who needs a blast of electricity to bring his ticker back to life: “CLEAR!” ZAP! Here’s some stuff that I’ve been getting a BLAST out of lately:
THE THREE LITTLE RIGS is the latest children’s book by my old pal David Gordon. This is the 2nd in his charming series loosely based on classic nursery rhymes and fairy tales, with the twist being that in Dave’s versions the protagonists are all cars, trucks and other humanised machines. The first in the series was “The Ugly Truckling” and he has ideas for many more. While the appeal to gizmo obsessed little boys is perhaps obvious, the classic story-lines and charmingly-cute artwork should appeal to little girls as well. Dave draws trucks so cute you want to give them a saucer of milk and cuddle them.
BLUTCH is an artist that I’d heard about but only recently got properly aquainted with. Sam Hiti repeatedly told me of his admiration for this French comics artist and since Sam has never steered me wrong in any of his comics recomendations, I went in search of this “Blutch” guy… without any luck. Next thing you know, I get some copies of Blutch’s “MITCHUM” books in the mail. Sam had kindly picked up a few copies for me when he was in Canada. Then I spotted some copies of Mitchum in at MELTDOWN comics (so if you live in LA you can buy Blutch too).
Blutch’s drawings are energetic and use either a scribbly pen or a fluid brush. Some of the books are drawn in a very crude fashion and some with a fluid grace but all show a bravery and boldness to the fearless throwing around of the ink. Most of the stories are dreamlike atmospheric and surreal and many of them have no dialogue, so don’t be put off buying them just because you can’t read French.
NICOLAS de CRECY is yet another French comic-book artist who’s work I admire. He also happens to be one of the two that I have actually worked with (at the DISNEY Paris studio where we did layouts, along with TAO BANG’s Didier Cassegrain). I remember seeing some pages for a graphic novel that he was working in his spare time, and being very impressed with the rich intricate artwork. Years later, while on a visit back to France, some artwork on a book cover caught my eye. Picking it up, I realised that it was the finished work of the pages seen years before. That book is called FOLIGATTO.
Lately I’ve been looking at Nicolas de Crecy’s books again, both ones bought years ago and a few acquired recently. Along with Foligatto I’ve got LEON LA CAME, PRIEZ POUR NOUS and BIBEDUM CELESTE. His brush line-work is superbly crazed and spidery but his detailed compositions never become messy, partly due to the use of a simple duo-chrome palette (usually using shades of two opposite colours) which has a beautifully clarifying effect over his agitated line. Some of the books he has illustrated were written by Sylvain Chomet who is best known as the writer/director of the Oscar nominated “Triplettes of Belleville”. Later, de Crecy and Chomet also collaborated on an animated short. If you enjoy the quirky visuals of Chomet’s films, then seek out de Crecy’s books from the 1990’s and you will see the visual motifs that later appeared in Chomet’s films. De Crecy’s visual world has had a lasting impression on Chomet, or perhaps it more fair to say that they have influenced eachother, having collaborated on both books and animation.
I have also been reading stuff that will be more familiar to fans of American comics.
ESSENTIAL SILVER SURFER. The B/W printing puts a focus on the beautiful drawing and inking. Yes, the dialogue is overwrought and corny (portentious pulse-pounding prose) but entertaining nonetheless. Plus, I like the character; he is not the typical superhero… He’s “sensitive.” Don’t despair Silver Surfer! I understand your pain, unlike all those guys shooting cannons at you…
LOVE AND ROCKETS. I just got “The Lost Women and other stories” and I’ve also been reading “Locas in Love.” and ““WigWam Bam.” The artwork is clean; every panel is a lesson in how evocative simplicity can be. The writing is entertaining too; the richness of Jaime‘s world is very engrossing. No need to go on about these; everyone else is way ahead of me.