July 8, 2008

Much of Glomp‘s art, arresting and experimental, looks more like gallery hangings than comics. That’s nothing new, but it nicely displays certain trends in art comics. In three artists:

I. Andrea Bruno

A page from an untitled story by Andrea Bruno

In this untitled comic by Bruno, an Italian member of the Canicola collective, its seductive surface recalls painting. But it’s not painting. It’s just some borrowed surface tics, rather like distressing a chair from Ikea.

Bruno’s work, like many of the artists with full-page illustrations instead of comics in Glomp, truly borrows from the world of design and illustration.  That is to say, these are commodity images, easily digested.  I would contrast a painting by, say, Sigmar Polke.  While superficially similar, Polke’s actually welcomes deep seeing, like the comic by Aapo Rapi.  Its traditional cartooning, cloaked in foreboding watercolors, and does not flatter my eye so much as bleed through it.

From “Ella Assinen” by Aapo Rapi


II. Katri Sipilainen

A page from “Witch Thing” by Katri Sipilainen

At the other end, this Finnish artist borrows from childhood art. She has a vibrant, often gaudy color palatte well-suited to her folktale story. I find it more painterly than Bruno; it looks like watercolor, though often feels like colored pens.  Of course, using cartoon art with adult themes has been a tired shock tactic since the undergrounds.  Here, the color and wily line contrast childhood’s world of bright forms with the swirling unease at the heart of folktales’ moral world.

Other artists make similar use of primitive drawing.  Some can’t draw.  Others, like Olivier Schrauwen, need an art style that resonates with a death-metal story.  Adolescence follows childhood.


III. Janne Tervamaki

A page from “Three Short Circuits” by Janne Tervamaki

Finally, a purity of form and color in this story, “Three Short Circuits.”  It is one of the book’s best, a few pages of dashed expectations made more striking for the coldness in the images.  In part, it just shows the tools used, a fine pen and a computer for color.  But it is also a response to a certain kind of story, a way of emptying the narrative with the images.

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