In 2011, I had the privilege and the honor of curating a show at the Berardo Collection Museum in Belém, Lisbon, focused on the contemporary scene of Portuguese comics and how they responded to formal and aesthetic experimental concerns as well as to see how certain artworld objects or from contiguous media could be addressed as being part of an expanded vision of comics themselves. This was entitled Tinta nos Nervos, and it counted with the help of many friends, including the participating artists. Among them was a young experimental artist who had not produced that much work by then, and not known at all. In fact, it is still not that known today, as Cátia Serrão – that’s her name – has made choices that are not conducive to fame and fortune. Then again, every time one mixes the words “comics” and “experimental”, more often than not one is going down a world of trouble. Continue reading “Acquisition. Cátia Serrão (kuš!)”
The Fumetto International Comix Festival, held last April in Luzern, Switzerland, is probably the closest one has to contemporary art fairs, probably. Now, there’s a number of shows which present new work, but more often than not those are small gallery shows. European festivals seem also to be more prone to present original art from comics projects as art exhibitions, and less as a commercial-drive convention, but there’s always a mixture of those dimensions (and beyond). In any case, Fumetto goes a little further, by commissioning new work, and usually in innovative ways. Continue reading ““Magma”, in Strapazin no. 130″
More often than not, mainstream accounts on the history or celebration of comics repeat the same names over and over again, until they’re congealed in a canon, that can go by many names: “the indispensable”, “the masters”, “the definitive best”, “the consensual”, and so on. Even not so much mainstream accounts, that do make an effort to cast their nets wider and in a more diverse way, seldom include work that has been done in order to transform the medium, language and art of comics into something riskier when it comes to storytelling structures and representational strategies. Andrzej Klimowski has been creating books that at one time recuperate older traditions of visual narratives, such as the woodcut novels of Frans Masereel and Lynd Ward, and deploy tropes and techniques from other art realms into comics-making. Klimowski belongs truly to the core of that which Domingos Isabelinho has called for multiple times: not a history of alternative comics but an alternative history of comics. Continue reading “Poster Book. Andrzej Klimowski (SelfMadeHero)”
Steven Universe is an incredible animated series, celebrated by both fans and critics. In many ways, it is a very simple, straightforward show, with short episodes on the life of Steven Universe, who, according to one of the primitive notes that Rebecca Sugar wrote down when starting to think about the show, and included in the first pages of this book, is “a little brother”. But, the note continues, the show “would touch on a feeling that all kids can relate to – just wanting control over your own life!” Does it help that Steven is a little boy whose mother, Rose Quartz, was an alien, crystal-like entity that had to give up her human form so that Steven was born? That his father is a warm, but pretty deadbeat rocker who works in a small car-wash business now? And that he is raised by not one, but three surrogate mothers in the shape of other Gem-warriors from outer space, protectors of Earth from a universe-spanning conflict? Does it help that Steven has to deal not only with regular Earth life but also with his budding magical superpowers? Maybe not, but Steven has sure a lot of people willing to help him. Continue reading “Steven Universe, Art & Origins. Chris McDonnell (Abrams)”
Every year for the last few years, Paul Gravett invited me to contribute to his global Best Of list, to which I contribute with my own take on Portuguese comics. This year is the last, as I’m stepping evermore into the role of an author. I’m not a fan of “best ofs” and “top tens” and the like, as we will always leave something out that deserves one’s attention and there’s too many factors to think, so any comparison is always problematic. Still, among the pile of work to do, books and mags and zines and newspapers and papers to read, I hope I can can call the attention of an international audience to some of the vibrant books being put out in your little corner. Enjoy!
There are, perhaps, one too many “post-apocalyptic dystopian stories” to the point that it becomes, sometimes, not only a genre, with all its expected but exciting formulas and structures, but also very predictable. Genre fatigue sets in fast. Nevertheless, once in a while, an author is able to explore still a fresh take on a well tread territory, not by piling up upon it new facets, or expanding its scope, but rather by zeroing in on a single dimension. Continue reading “La terre des fils. Gipi (Futuropolis)”
The first thing that hits me is the absolutely lush, elegant cover. After identifying the female figure as such, atop the strange looking pile against an absolute black background, the mysterious protagonist shies away from us, and tries to disappear amidst the shapes around her, which mixes organic, artificial, machinic forms. Is she being engulfed by these objects into oblivion? Or is she trying to find protection amidst those debris? Around her head, brilliant and vibrantly colored, unidentified shapes seem to make up a sort of fluid aura. The title hovers above, as if materializing a question, the traces of its beginning in the multicolored blots below.
Continue reading “What is Left. Rosemary V.O. [Valero-O’Connell] (shortbox)”
There was a time when comics were thought of as an art form with, almost exclusively, North-American origins. While today the historical, transnational discussions allow for a more comprehensive and crossed view of older forms and international traditions, there is a more or less consensual understanding that it is a modern form. While it is indeed possible to create associations between what we call comics today and older forms of visual storytelling, from radically different cultural backgrounds, levels of social usage of said texts and whatnot, we describe it as something that had to emerge within a number of requisites: an urban environment with diverse populations, the concurrence of a number of communication technologies, a more or less free press, a complex ecology of entertainment industries, a tension between so-called elite and popular cultures, and so on. Continue reading “Jared Gardner: the “Projections” interview”
I have written a short review of Andrew J. Friendenthal’s Retcon Game, a great introduction to one of the most riveting and interesting narratological structures to have ever emerged within the production of North-American mainstream superhero comics, although arguably stemming from previous literary experiences. The author does a terrific job in creating precisely those links, as well as a broad contextualization in North American culture, delving into other social realities, so it goes well beyond comics.
A fast read, which is a plus, this could be easily turned into a classroom classic. The review is up at the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, which you can access here.