Sunday, October 6, 2013

Harvey would be so proud! (The ComicsReview UK)













Once upon a time in the English-speaking world, nobody clever, educated or grown up liked comics. Now we’re an accredited really and truly art form and spectacular books like this can be appreciated…

The Graphic Canon is an astounding literary and art project, instigated by legendary crusading editor, publisher, anthologist and modern Renaissance Man Russ Kick, which endeavours to interpret the world’s great books through the eyes of masters of crusading sequential narrative in an eye-opening synthesis of modes and styles.
The project is divided into three periods roughly equating with the birth of literature and the rise of the modern novel (From the Epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous Liaisons covered literature from ancient times to the end of the 1700s, whilst Kubla Khan to the Brontë Sisters to The Picture of Dorian Gray concentrated on the 19th century), and this third volume concentrates on the astonishing variety and changes which hallmarked the socially revolutionary 20th century in stories and poetry.
Rather than simply converting the stories the artists involved have been given the freedom to respond to texts in their own way, producing graphics – narrative or otherwise, sequential or not – to accompany, augment or even offset the words before them and the result is simply staggering…
Make no mistake: this is not a simple bowdlerising “prose to strip” exercise like generations of Classics Illustrated comics, and you won’t pass any tests on the basis of what you see here. Moreover these images will make you want to re-read the texts you know and hunger for the ones you haven’t got around to yet.
They certainly did for me…
Each piece is preceded by an informative commentary page by Kick, and the wonderment begins with ten illustrations by Matt Kish synthesising the dark delerium of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, after which a seminal and scandalously revolutionary tale of sexual oppression and gender politics is revived in Rebecca Migdal’s moodily monotone comics adaptation of The Awakening by Kate Chopin, whilst

Tara Seibel visually précis’ portions of Sigmund Freud’ discredited masterpiece The Interpretation of Dreams.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is visually summarised by Tara Seibel 

Existentialist selection of pages adapted by Robert Crumb from Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea and originally published in Hup #3, 1989, is followed by Lisa Brown’sThree Panel Review of Ian McEwan’s Atonement, whilst Liesbeth De Stercke’s wordless adaptation of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath takes all the time it needs to drive home its still-telling point.
Jorge Luis Borge wrote hundreds of short stories and vignettes called “Ficciones”. His prodigious output and incredible books largely consist of stringing these story-lets together.
The Three Stories (‘Library of Babel’‘The Garden of Forking Paths’ and ‘The Circular Ruins’) featured here are realised as a trio of stunning pencil illustrations by Kathryn Siveyer, after which Juan Carlos Kreimer & Julian Aron contribute a crucial scene from their Argentinean adaptation (translated here by Dan Simon) of Albert Camus’ The Stranger, whilst photographic designer Laura Plansker dimir Nabokov is such a cruelly misunderstood tale.   

Seibel then provides a graphic biography of literary pioneers William S. Burroughs, Diane di Prima, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg in Four Beats art
whilst Kerouac’s On the Road is sampled by artist Yeji Yun, and Emelie Östegren pictorialises a free-floating chunk of Burroughs’ Naked Lunch.
PMurphy offers a silent strip summarizing One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, Ellen Lindner illustrates ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath, 

This sort of book is just what the art form comics needs to grow beyond our largely self-imposed ghetto, and anything done this well with so much heart and joy simply has to be rewarded.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Article in Cleveland SCENE, "He Works Hard For the Money"


HE WORKS HARD FOR THE MONEY

Posted by  on Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 9:51 AM

Until fairly recently, Harvey Pekar says, he “always had a lot of trouble” getting artists to illustrate his stories. “I had to work with some people who were not that good. It was either that or nothing.”
RickParkerZenPekar.jpg
  • RICK PARKER
That’s not the case anymore, as one look at his new online project and real-world gallery exhibit proves.The Pekar Project is a web comic series published by SMITH magazine, edited by Jeff Newelt. It’s a multifaceted adventure in the real-life stories of Harvey. New comics are published every other week at smithmag.net, along with interviews, artist spotlights and other material. Artists include New Yorkers Rick Parker and Sean Pryor, Los Angelino Joseph Remnant and Clevelander Tara Seibel.
“I met Tara at a workshop at Lakeland [Community College],” says Pekar. “The other three came to me from Jeff, who just sent me people he thought were real good. They were really anxious to work with me, even though they weren’t getting paid.”
Not getting paid is not unusual in the world of storytelling and comics, especially online. Pekar is hopeful that the Pekar Project will attract the interest of a print publisher.
For the first Project, Siebel depicted a conversation Pekar had with comic-book colleague R. Crumb. They talked about contemporary artists’ and musicians’ struggle to find an audience, which was a key concept in the opera Leave Me Alone, for which Pekar wrote the libretto.
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  • TARA SIEBEL
The stories he’s currently writing for the project are about his trip to and from a speaking engagement in Muncie, Indiana. Once he’s “run into” a story, Pekar writes it in the format of a comic strip, with word balloons and stick figures. “No matter how many times I copy, it’s always messy and sloppy,” he says.
“If nothing ever comes of [the Pekar Project], it wouldn’t be a big huge loss. It’s not like I’ve been chiseling away at a big block of stone to make a sculpture or something.”
And whether the Pekar Project sees print or not, the Pennello Gallery(12407 Mayfield Rd., 216.707.9390) will show original art from the series in an exhibit called The Pekar Project Live: From Web to Walls. It opens with a reception from 7-11 p.m. Friday, October 3, and continues through October 9. — Michael Gill