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Canada.com's Holiday Guide lists Charles Burns and Tom Gauld among top graphic novelists

Updated January 16, 2013


Five graphic novel picks from 2012
BY SHAWN CONNER, VANCOUVER SUN
DECEMBER 17, 2012

Every year a greater variety, not to mention number, of graphic novels appears on bookstore shelves, or what’s left of them. This year was particularly busy in the illustrated memoir field, led by Alison Bechdel. Her graphic novel Are You My Mother?, which followed 2006’s acclaimed Fun Home, was one of the more talked-about books of 2012. By far, though, the graphic novel that generated the most chatter was Chris Ware’s Building Stories, a book-in-a-box that is as solid a demarcation between the past and future of the medium as was the first issue of Robert Crumb’s Zap Comix (regarded by many as the first underground) in 1968. Building Stories isn’t included in this list – it’s covered elsewhere in the paper – but here are five books we think demonstrate, in different ways, the potential of the medium.

Goliath (Drawn and Quarterly) – Readers of the New York Times Sunday Magazine may recognize Tom Gauld’s work; the Scottish cartoonist’s repurposed stick figures accompany the weekly Riff column. Actually, Gauld’s work isn’t quite as simple as “repurposed stick figures” makes it sound, and he imbues this retelling of the David and Goliath story with pathos and a lasting, sweet melancholy. (96 pps, hardcover, $19.95)

The Hive (Pantheon) – Charles Burns is the standard-bearer of creepy horror in modern comics. The Hive, the second in a proposed trilogy, turns romance comics clichés inside out in a story fuelled by nightmare logic, fantastically rendered in Burnsian black-and-white. (56 pps, hardcover, $25.95)
 
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Featured artists

Charles Burns
Tom Gauld

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Goliath




  Star Tribune lists Adrian Tomine, Chris Ware and Charles Burns in their holiday book roundup

Updated January 15, 2013


Holiday books roundup: Graphic novels
Article by: TOM HORGEN , Star Tribune staff writer Updated: November 24, 2012 - 3:33 PM
Chris Ware's "Building Stories" tops our list of graphic novel suggestions.

BUILDING STORIES
by Chris Ware (Pantheon, $50)
Apparently, no one ever told Chris Ware that print is dead. Or maybe they did and this is his fantastic rebuttal. Ware, the master behind "Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth," has created a batch of sad, highly detailed comics with "Building Stories." The catch is the presentation. Inside this oversized box are 14 different stories -- some are traditional books of various sizes, others are magazines, newspapers and small pamphlets. This isn't a graphic novel. It's a library ready to be explored.

THE HIVE
by Charles Burns (Pantheon, $21.95)
If David Lynch made graphic novels, they'd look something like the weird, twisted work of Charles Burns. The latest from this visionary artist is the second volume of a planned trilogy (which began with "X'ed Out" in 2010). Burns' bold pen strokes tell the story of Doug, a confused young man caught between a dream world of grotesqueries and real life -- which proves even more nightmarish.

NEW YORK DRAWINGS
by Adrian Tomine (Drawn & Quarterly, $29.95)
Adrian Tomine is one of the comic book world's great chroniclers of everyday insecurities, best illustrated in the graphic novels "Shortcomings" and "Summer Blonde." His warm, observational style made him a perfect cover artist for the New Yorker, a post he's held for the past decade. Collected in this beautiful 176-page hardcover are all of Tomine's covers, plus his interior illustrations and other New York-centric pieces (from a TV on the Radio poster to a random unpublished portrait of Batman).
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Featured artists

Adrian Tomine
Chris Ware
Charles Burns

           Featured product

New York Drawings




Montreal Gazette calls Librairie Drawn & Quarterly, "more than just a bookstore"

Updated January 15, 2013


Drawn & Quarterly: A binding force in Mile End

The bookstore is such a vital part of the neighbourhood that it feels much older than its five years
By Ian McGillis, Special to The Gazette
November 9, 2012

“People have stopped saying things like ‘Oh yeah, that little comics shop.’ Now they just call us a bookstore.”

Chris Oliveros, founder of the acclaimed comic and graphic literature publishers Drawn & Quarterly, is describing the breakthrough in perception of the shop he opened in 2007 as the public face of his rapidly growing company. But as anyone who has spent any time at Librairie Drawn & Quarterly knows, it is more than just a bookstore. Mile End — grumblings about gentrification from some quarters notwithstanding—remains one of North America’s most vital concentrations of alternative culture, and every Bohemia needs its nerve centre and spiritual haven. Librairie Drawn & Quarterly is already so entrenched in that role that it feels a lot older than it actually is.

“For me the store is an institution, a local one but of international repute,” says Montreal writer and broadcaster Jonathan Goldstein. “I think of it in the same vein as Schwartz’s, you know? The kind of place I tell visitors in town that they have to check out. It’s like our own City Lights, a gem of a bookstore backed up by a history of publishing iconic writers and artists.”

Madeleine Thien, a peripatetic novelist who makes Mile End her home base, agrees: “I really cherish this bookstore, for the publishing and bookselling they do but also because it’s evident every time I walk in or attend an event just how passionately they care about books and the community.”

On the eve of the store’s fifth birthday, Oliveros and D&Q creative director Tom Devlin point out that it was another anniversary — the Canada Council for the Arts’ 50th, in 2007 — that got the ball rolling.

“They had a surplus of money that year,” recalls Devlin. “They approached all the publishers who typically use them and basically said, ‘Offer us your craziest idea, what you’d want to do if you got some of this extra money.’ So we ran through all these options: some sort of anthology or elaborate book, or maybe some kind of major website revamp.”

Then they came up with an idea they had both entertained independently at various points: a store. Their thinking was driven partly by practical considerations and partly by a desire to strike back against some good old-fashioned Canadian regional bias. “Very few people were aware that we were based in Montreal,” says Oliveros. “Most people just assumed we were in Toronto. Whenever we had an event, we’d have it in some bar, because, at least on the English side, there was really no other place to do it. And mainstream stores just weren’t stocking our books. So we wanted to make a community spot, yes, but we also just wanted to make people aware we were here.”

The decision to go retail made, and literally a day after the Canada Council grant was secured, Devlin was cycling down Bernard St. W. when he saw an “à louer” sign on an empty storefront at 211, between Esplanade and Jeanne Mance, the former site of a Hasidic children’s clothing store. (“I remember when I used to bring my youngest son to a garderie around the corner, we always used to stop and look at the baby mannequins in the window,” Oliveros says.) The property had been in the same family since the 1940s, and the landlord, when approached by Oliveros and Devlin, was happy with the idea it would be a bookstore.

Once the space was secured and the work on it started, a certain amount of dumb luck came into play. Original period brick turned out to be behind all four walls, and a low added ceiling turned out to conceal much higher Edwardian-era wood. “We knew we didn’t want that ugly low ceiling, but had no idea what disaster might be underneath it,” recalls Devlin. “We worried that we might financially sink the whole company just trying to open the store. When we saw what was actually there, we thought, ‘Oh my god, that’s amazing.’ ”

Says Oliveros: “Right from the beginning the idea was to make it not just a place to sell Drawn & Quarterly books, but a store with everything that we liked. Not just other graphic novels, but other books: fiction, art, design.”

Adds Devlin: “Initially we just looked at our home bookshelves and said, ‘Hey, let’s order that and that.’ You know, ‘I like Denis Johnson, so let’s order a bunch of Denis Johnson!’ None of us had run a bookstore, but we knew we had enough space that for a while we could get away with just choosing based on personal taste. We had a little wiggle room.”

That original winging-it approach has been refined under store manager Jason Grimmer to encompass a selection whose unifying sensibility is more philosophically driven than genre-defined — hard to pin down, but you know it when you see it. For sympathetic souls, it can feel like being in the apartment of an extremely clued-in bibliophile friend.

“It’s all so well curated,” comments Goldstein. “You make discoveries there, stumble upon new favourite authors in a way that doesn’t happen when you go to Amazon already knowing what you want.”

An important element in the store’s design and layout was that it be adaptable into a performance space. There’s a well-elevated stage against the back wall, and movable central tables to allow for seating and unimpeded flow. A plan to hold music events every Sunday hit a snag when an early “secret” show by Handsome Furs drew an overflow crowd and noise complaints; from that point on, literary events were deemed best, and for the past five years the store has hosted roughly 75 readings and launches per year.

For the writing community, the store’s cachet and reputation are drawing card enough. “Doing my launches there feels like being a part of something, like getting a stamp of quality,” says Goldstein. “Plus, they’re all so nice to me.” (This reporter can concur, having done a reading there last spring, in tandem with Kevin Chong and Elise Moser, where I was treated with a deference most stores might reserve for international literary lions.)

The goodwill and community outreach effected by such events aren’t their only motivation: altruism is all fine and good, but business, as Devlin points out, is business. “You have an event and you can sell 40 of somebody’s book. Without that event, you might sell four.”

As momentum gathered and the store’s profile grew, it became necessary to shift some events to the Ukrainian Federation on Hutchison St., an equally atmospheric room with the advantage of being considerably bigger. That’s where Sunday’s fifth-birthday event, featuring three of the biggest names in graphic literature, will be held. Charles Burns is the author of the seminal graphic novel Black Hole and has illustrated every cover of the über-hip culture magazine The Believer; Adrian Tomine is at the younger end of the golden generation of comics artists and has had illustration commissions as iconic as the cover of the current issue of the New Yorker, for which he was given the daunting assignment of representing both the Hurricane Sandy flood and the presidential election in a single simple image; Chris Ware, described by Oliveros as “the most influential comics artist since Art Spiegelman,” has just published Building Stories, a monumental multi-volume boxed novel that raises the bar for the whole form.

The presence of three such heavy hitters on one bill (a music equivalent might be, say, Arcade Fire, Bruce Springsteen and Leonard Cohen sharing a stage) tells its own tale: Drawn & Quarterly is doing well. The store, confirms Devlin, is now turning a profit. “It’s only in the last year that we’ve turned the corner. I guess it’s that classic five-year business thing. Every month (this year) has been far better than the previous year’s. We’ve reached that tipping point where people from, say, Westmount know we’re here, and will make a trip here.”

Given such success, at odds with every book-retailing trend, it might be assumed that expansion or even a bit of franchising might be in the cards, but not so fast, says Oliveros. “There’s always the possibility, when you’ve got something that works, that you can expand too far and create a whole new set of problems. We believe that a store like this could work in other cities, but that would involve so much, not just in terms of investment but of having people in those other cities.”

“The space next door came up for rent a while ago, and we went back and forth on it, thinking we’d like more room,” says Devlin. “But then you start projecting: you knock out a wall and that means a second clerk over there, suddenly your rent doubles and your staffing overhead doubles and your sales only go up 10 per cent ... so we’re very cautious. We don’t want to blow this.”

Ultimately that space next door was taken by the music store Phonopolis, further cementing the street’s cultural vibe. Talking to Oliveros, it’s clear he takes some quiet pride in the part he has played in the neighbourhood’s ongoing renaissance.

“After we opened, it definitely helped change Bernard. The street had just undergone a transformation, the sidewalks were widened, but there were still empty storefronts. There weren’t nearly as many diverse stores around here. There were no cafés. And the funny thing is, when we opened, we were worried. We had that initial cushion, but it was just a one-time grant — there was no other funding after that. We worried that after the first year the publishing end might have to support this. We were wondering how long we could last.”

“Initially we did think that even if we just did this for just a year or two, it would be a fun thing we did,” says Devlin. “At the very least, we thought that years down the line we’d be laughing, saying ‘Remember that crazy store we had?’ ”

Five years on, it’s hard to picture Mile End without that store, so much so that it sometimes feels like something slightly more ineffable is going on, an alchemical process by which the books themselves seem to come alive.

“I love strolling among those wacko characters and superheroes,” says multiple award-winning novelist and Mile End resident Rawi Hage. “It is comforting to know that they live here, among us, in this neighbourhood.”

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly marks its fifth anniversary with Charles Burns, Adrian Tomine and Chris Ware, Sunday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. at Ukrainian Federation, 5213 Hutchison St. Tickets cost $5, available at the bookstore, 211 Bernard St. W. Call 514-279-2224.
 
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Featured artists

Adrian Tomine
Chris Ware
Charles Burns

          



  Thestar.com highlights Charles Burns and Adrian Tomine's new works as "graphic novel standouts"

Updated January 15, 2013


The Hive and New York Drawings among October’s graphic novel standouts
Published on Sunday November 04, 2012

October was a fantastic month for comic book fans, and a reminder that the authors we celebrate have strange, boundless imaginations. From a mutant-filled underworld called “the hive,” to quiet reflections on New York City, to literally star-crossed alien lovers, this month’s standout graphic novels explore a whole universe of possibility.

Charles Burns, The Hive

($25.95, Pantheon Books)

The celebrated Black Hole author returns with another surreal, nightmarish trip down the rabbit hole in The Hive, the second book of a trilogy that began with 2010’s X’ed Out.

We follow Doug, an aspiring performance artist with a head injury, through several flowing, disorienting narratives. In one narrative, he recalls his relationship with ex-girlfriend Sarah, hinting at a traumatic incident; in another, he lives in an eerie netherworld populated by mutants. There, he delivers comic books to female “breeders” in a facility called “the hive.”

Burns references Tintin with his drawing style, but while Hergé’s books were innocent and plot-driven, The Hive is dark, puzzling and deeply unsettling. With this engrossing graphic novel, Burns proves he is the master of creating a terrible sense of dread while not quite letting readers in on any secrets.

Adrian Tomine, New York Drawings

($29.95, Drawn and Quarterly)

Adrian Tomine opens New York Drawings with a three-page comic about his first time hobnobbing at a New Yorker party. Overwhelmed by sightings of Steve Martin and Philip Roth, he avoids making small talk by asking guests for directions to the coat check.

His awkward interactions belie his incredible ability to capture humans on the page. This book is primarily a collection of his funny, evocative, character-driven art for theNew Yorker from 1999 to 2012, but it reads like a love letter to the Big Apple. Interesting odds and ends are thrown in, including his 2004 “New York Sketches,” when he spent much of his early days in New York drawing strangers sitting on the D train or standing on street corners.

New York Drawings is a worthy read for fans of Tomine’s work or anyone who just wants to marvel at the power of a simple pen and ink.
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Featured artists

Adrian Tomine
Charles Burns

           Featured product

New York Drawings




Thestar.com interviews Adrian Tomine, Chris Ware and Charles Burns about their new work

Updated January 15, 2013


Chris Ware, Adrian Tomine and Charles Burns discuss their best work
Laura Kane
Published on Friday November 02, 2012

As three of the world’s most respected graphic novelists prepare to discuss their new books in Toronto, the changing landscape of their medium seems to be top of mind.

Chris Ware’s Building Stories is truly a book that cannot be read on a Kindle: an assortment of 14 graphic pamphlets, posters and books housed inside a large cardboard box.

Adrian Tomine’s New York Drawings is a beautiful hardcover collecting the artist’s covers, drawings and cartoons for The New Yorker.

Then there is Charles Burns’ The Hive, a disorienting, multi-layered tale that explores the theme of art as a lens to view the world. All three books are worthy arguments for art you can touch, hold and experience — not just scroll through.

It’s not a surprise then that when asked by the Star to describe a favourite page both Ware and Tomine wrote, by coincidence, about the value of print in a digital world.

Adrian Tomine, “Read Handed” from New York Drawings

This image, which appeared on the June 9 & 16, 2008 cover of The New Yorker, was my attempt to sympathetically acknowledge the plight of the independent bookseller in the Amazon age, as well as the dilemma of the modern book buyer.

When it was published, I saw this cover taped into the window of several book shops around New York. That was gratifying to me, and I felt like, in some small way, there was an unspoken conversation taking place between me, the retailer, and the store’s customers.

Chris Ware, “Building Daughter” from Building Stories

Since I don’t generally feel happy or confident about what I do, I can’t pick a “favourite” page. But if I had to choose one that sort of surprised me as I was working on it, it would maybe be this page.

It’s a newspaper-scaled spread that arranges the main character’s memories of her recently deceased father around a drawing of her sleeping daughter, printed more or less the size that a child at 10 months actually is.

Though we hear a lot lately about the usurpation of print and paper by electronic media, I believe there’s still a reason for art and storytelling that doesn’t arrive in a little glowing pit, but as a certain, real thing which one can actually hold.

Even though it was only published a few years ago, it’s an image that’s already dated. If I were to create an amended version today, there would be another person in one of the windows above, enthralled by an “e-reader” and oblivious to the commotion downstairs.

Charles Burns, pg. 19 from The Hive

Whenever I leaf through The Hive, I find myself pausing to look at this page; perhaps because it comes close to capturing that subtle feeling of loss and regret I get when summer turns to fall.

On this page, Doug, the protagonist, is walking with Sarah, his soon-to-be girlfriend. I never like “explaining” my stories, but in the centre panel, we see three groupings of figures: Doug and Sarah with hopeful, almost wistful smiles on their faces, an older hippie couple that look a little broken and sad and a young family sitting in the park, enjoying a beautiful autumn day.

Why have they all been placed together in the same panel? How do they relate to each other? Those are the kinds of questions I want my readers to ask themselves as they make their way through my story.

Adrian Tomine, Charles Burns and Chris Ware host audio-visual presentations of their respective new works on Nov. 12 at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 8:30 p.m., as part of The Beguiling’s 25th anniversary.

 
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Featured artists

Adrian Tomine
Chris Ware
Charles Burns

           Featured product

New York Drawings




  Charles Burns' new work among Book Peeps' top pics

Updated January 14, 2013


PW Picks: The Best New Books for the Week of October 8, 2012
Publishers Weekly writer, Gabe Habash, gives us 14 book selections for the week of October 8:

The Hive by Charles Burns (Pantheon) – In this second volume of a trilogy begun in X’ed Out, Burns’s stark work operates on its own nightmare logic and as a result, flesh-crawling events spew forth in the most mundane of settings. Romance comics, misshapen mutants, reptile men, a nightmare of disembowelment that yields a fetal pig, photographic obsessions and more stake out their territory–the result will stick with readers long after being absorbed.
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Featured artist

Charles Burns

          



City Paper promotes event with Chris Ware, Charles Burns, and Chip Kidd

Updated January 14, 2013


Chris Ware, Charles Burns & Chip Kidd
Tue., Oct. 9, 7:30 p.m, Free Library, 1901 Vine St.
A.D. Amorosi
City Paper

This isn’t the first time the unholy trio of the graphic novel has toured — Philly’s Free Library alone has hosted five events with the Ware/Burns/Kidd team. Expect mature themes, based on the new books that Ware (eerie, shadow-box-like Building Stories, out last week) and Philly native Burns (darkly psychedelic X’ed Out sequel The Hive, out today) are bringing. The night’s moderator, Reading-born Chip Kidd, is famed for his book-cover graphic designs, but is also a graphic novelist himself, most recently with this summer’s Batman: Death by Design. “I don’t have to worry, because all Charles and Chris have to do is present their new books and I’m home free,” says Kidd. His take on his pals’ books? “The Hive and Building Stories, prospectively, are both masterpieces, in my humble view as editor and fan.”

Tue., Oct. 9, 7:30 p.m, Free Library, 1901 Vine St., 215-686-5322, freelibrary.org.
 

Featured artists

Chris Ware
Charles Burns

          



  Two D+Q artists listed in Paste's Comic Book & Graphic Novel Round-Up

Updated January 14, 2013


Comic Book & Graphic Novel Round-Up (10/4/12)
Published at 8:00 PM on October 4, 2012 BY HILLARY BROWN AND SEAN EDGAR
Each week, Paste reviews the most intriguing comic books, graphic novels, graphic memoirs and other illustrated books.

The Hive
by Charles Burns
Pantheon, 2012
Rating: 8.9

I’m not going to tell you that you can’t read The Hive, Charles Burns’s second in a trilogy of shorter comics volumes that began with X’ed Out two years ago, without having read its predecessor. In fact, it may almost be a better place to start than at the beginning because of the disorientation that results from doing so. Where X’ed Out set up its drifting between dream and reality in a more conventional fashion, beginning in our world and setting up clear visual and thematic echoes between it and the realm of the unconscious, The Hive is more unsettling. The first quarter works like nesting dolls of fantasy, adding both dreamworld comics and their “real world” counterparts to the mix, and as you’re jerked among the narratives, you can’t find your footing, an experience both nauseating and somewhat pleasurable. Burns seems to be exploring a theme about the function of visual fantasy, but it’s never obvious. He’s always been a genius at bringing out the gross side of the uncanny as he’s focused on the desires our superegos do their best to quash—a Stephen King who says the horror is in us, not outside us, and more horrifying for that—and this series is no exception. It will provoke both attraction and revulsion, often within the same panel, as well as a deeply felt sadness veering into depression, “the bad thing” David Foster Wallace wrote of. Intelligent, carefully crafted and emphatically not for everyone. (HB)

New York Drawings
by Adrian Tomine
Drawn + Quarterly, 2012
Rating: 7.6

More endearing than many of Tomine’s earlier works, this volume from Drawn + Quarterly collects his illustrations, many made for the New Yorker and all focusing on the city to which he moved about seven years ago. Informative but not overly rich notes in the back provide context for many but not all of the images, which reproduce beautifully and more than make up a nice portfolio. There are a few multi-panel strips in here, some of which are quite lovely, warmer and more vulnerable than I tend to think of Tomine as being. The one in which he circulates at the magazine’s holiday party, endlessly asking if people know where the coat check is to give himself a purpose, is glumly amusing. In some ways, it’s as if Tomine is turning into a Harvey Pekar who can draw, a professional complainer who manages to entertain as he bitches. A whole book of this attitude might get old, though, which is why it’s nice to have his drawings of Bob Pollard, Batman (drawn for Chip Kidd) and others in greater numbers. His sketches of people around New York are perhaps the greatest pleasure, far less polished than his finished work but more relatable because of it. The book’s not going to convert anyone, but it’s a good record of work that otherwise might have been merely ephemeral. (HB)
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Featured artists

Adrian Tomine
Charles Burns

          



The Excerpt reports on the CHARLES BURNS, DYLAN HORROCKS and SETH round table at the 2010 IFOA

Updated October 27, 2010


I’m happy to report the IFOA roundtable of Canadian cartoonist Seth (George Sprott 1894-1975, Palookaville), New Zealand cartoonist Dylan Horrocks (Hicksville), and American cartoonist Charles Burns (Black Hole, X’d Out) Saturday afternoon lived up to the high expectations.
Getting three master cartoonists at the height of their respective careers together in one room (the Brigadier Room to be exact) to discuss the past, present, and future of their craft with an experienced and entertaining interviewer such as CBC Radio 2 personality Bob Mackowycz, created a wonderfully warm and familiar, at times almost confessional atmosphere. It felt at times as if a few old friends were getting together again to get reacquainted in someone’s living room rather than professionals on a stage sitting in front of a packed house of admirers.
Over the course of the hour the artists spoke about the struggles of balancing their commercial and paid work, ; issues around adopting comics to the screen; the different approaches to being a painter and cartoonist; and what may be in store for the next generation of cartoonists.
The artists also spoke about the fact that, because North American comics have only grown into a truly adult medium in our life time, almost all mature comics artists hail from a background in which the comic medium was expected to be written for kids. This transformation means that there is often a residual of that child-based tradition lingering in even the most adult work. The work of younger and upcoming cartoonists will not necessarily be steeped in work for children, a change that should make for new and interesting comic-art forms.
I think the most startling revelation during the afternoon was made by Dylan Horrocks. He did a four year stint working for DC (the company that owns Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman), writing stories for Batgirl, in order to make ends meet. He made the observation that today’s superhero comics have moved away from a younger readership to those in their mid- to late- teens, with the story lines becoming quite dark, narrow, brutal, and depressing. So much so, he said, that he had to give up working in that sub-genre.
 
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Featured artists

Dylan Horrocks
Seth
Charles Burns

          



  Charles Burns and Chris Ware in conversation this November in Illinois

Updated September 16, 2010


Charles Burns and Chris Ware in conversation at Unity Temple

The Book Table hosts an evening with Charles Burns and Chris Ware in conversation to celebrate the publication of Ware’s newest book, Acme Novelty Library #20, and Burns’ newest book, X’ed Out.

This will be a ticketed event. ADMISSION $10.

Each ticket can be redeemed for $10 off the purchase of EITHER X’ed Out OR Acme Novelty Library #20 at the event OR buy both titles and get $15 off the total.

This event is co-sponsored by The Book Table, Unity Temple Restoration Foundation, the Friends of the Oak Park Public Library and Midwest Media.

Unity Temple
875 Lake Street
Oak Park, Illinois 60301

Tue, 11/02/2010 - 7:30-9:30pm
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Featured artists

Chris Ware
Charles Burns

           Featured product

Acme Novelty Library Volume 20




Charles Burns in Resonance

Updated April 24, 2007



 
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Featured artist

Charles Burns

           Featured product

One Eye




  ONE EYE on Metapsychology Online Reviews

Updated April 5, 2007


One Eye
by Charles Burns
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
Apr 3rd 2007

Charles Burns is best known for his graphic novels, such as Skin Deep, Black Hole, and Big Baby. His style of drawing is very distinctive -- inspired by pulp comics, full of energy, and slightly creepy. One Eye is a departure for him: it is a collection of pictures, mostly photographs, taken on a Sony "cyber-shot" digital camera. Each page has two pictures, one on top of the other, and the pair has a title, a city, and a year. That is all the explanation the reader gets. Many of the pictures seem randomly paired at first, but after a little thought and browsing, it's possible to find some connection. "We Can't Go On Like This, Philadelphia, 2004" has a photograph of a scared young woman in green hues, and below it, a picture of a small pocket knife lying in a hand, against a red background. To spell it out, this seems to suggest potential violence, but nothing very serious. "A World of Small Pleasures" shows a hand holding up a beer bottle in a lime green bottle jacket, against a light blue wall, with, below it, a picture of a large smiley-face mug of black coffee on a beige table. Colors and textures are clearly very important here: mostly they match in these pairs of pictures, but occasionally they contrast or complement each other. Often there's a symmetry between the objects shown in the two pictures. There are many different sorts of things depicted: interiors of rooms, exteriors of buildings, pictures of old advertisement images, dolls, shelves (both full and empty), mountains and parks, curious objects, and some pictures of people, clouds and curtains. The collection of pairs of photographs is intriguing and puzzling. Some of the combinations are funny, some are strange, and some are beautiful. I wish the book were physically bigger, so it were easier to see the details of what is being shown -- I often found myself peering up close at a page, trying to work out what I was looking at. (In the preview of the book available at the D&Q website, it's possible to view the images expanded, and that does improve them.)

What does this all mean? Is it Art? How does this all relate to Burns' graphic art? Is it any good? These are difficult questions to answer. It certainly isn't as immediately compelling as Burns' graphic art, and there are not many images here that really stay in your head for long. However, One Eye is interesting, and the more you look at the pictures, the more cohesive the collection seems. It's probably best to see the pairings of pictures as a playful experiment rather than some major statement, and as such, it is pretty successful.
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Featured artist

Charles Burns

           Featured product

One Eye




D + Q spotlighted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Updated March 26, 2007


graphic novels
By Cliff Froehlich
SPECIAL TO THE POST-DISPATCH
03/25/2007

Smaller than Fantagraphics but just as ambitious in its aesthetic goals, the Montreal-based Drawn and Quarterly (www.drawnandquarterly.com) publishes some of graphic lit's finest artists, including Chester Brown, Joe Sacco, Jason Lutes and St. Louis' Kevin Huizenga.

Through the various incarnations of its titular anthology, "Drawn and Quarterly," the company also has helped introduce English-speaking audiences to an impressive array of significant international artists, a mission it continues to fulfill with books by such talents as Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Tove Jansson, and the team of Phillipe Dupuy and Charles Berberian.

Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie's "Aya" (112 pages, $19.95) is D&Q's latest cross-cultural gift, a charming and unexpectedly cheery coming-of-age story set in the Ivory Coast during the late 1970s. Refreshing as it is to read a tale of Africa that doesn't deal in genocide, famine or general strife, "Aya" sometimes veers dangerously close to the life lessons of young-adult lit, with the eponymous good-girl heroine hectoring her boy-crazy friends Adjoua and Bintou about their scandalous ways.

But if the general outlines of the story are familiar, the specifics are delightfully exotic, with Abouet vividly sketching the environs and rituals of Abidjan during its regrettably brief time as the "Paris of West Africa." She's considerably aided by Oubrerie's loose, energetic and vibrantly colored art.

In addition to its more traditional graphic-lit offerings, Drawn and Quarterly dabbles in what might be termed art books with comics connections. Some are quite elaborate, such as artist Steve Mumford's "Baghdad Journal," a hardcover compendium of drawings and watercolors made in Iraq during the war.

But the company also publishes a line of small paperbacks called Petites Livres. The latest is cartoonist Charles Burns' "One Eye" (144 pages, $14.95), a collection of digital photographs in which the artist juxtaposes two pictures to alternately ironic, disquieting and amusing effect. Photos of toys, pets, body parts, food, household objects, landscapes and architectural details play off one another in fascinating and often disturbing ways, eliciting the same creeping unease as Burns' eerily perfect drawing style.

Cliff Froehlich is executive director of Cinema St. Louis, presenter of the St. Louis International Film Festival.
 
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Featured artists

Steve Mumford
Charles Burns
Abouet & Oubrerie

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Aya
One Eye




  Aya and One Eye in Onion

Updated March 23, 2007



Apparently, cartoonist Charles Burns' predilection for juxtaposing the mundane and the bizarre extends to his photography. In One Eye (Drawn & Quarterly/Petits Livres), the Black Hole graphic novelist combines separate images into single pictures, sometimes accentuating the beauty of a nature scene, and sometimes making industrial landscapes, motel rooms and found objects look extra creepy. Aside from a one-paragraph intro at the start of the book, none of the disjointed visions herein are given any context. But then how much context does a shot of a pound cake fused to a shot of ground meat need? It's almost more disturbing without explanation… B+


The Marguerite Abouet-written, Clément Oubrerie-drawn Aya (Drawn & Quarterly) is the latest example of the burgeoning "growing up in exotic lands" genre, though Abouet lightly fictionalizes her girlhood on the Ivory Coast, working it into a multi-character, episodic story about teenagers in trouble during the waning days of an African nation's boom years. Abouet has lived in France since she was 12, and seems to have internalized the French method of comics storytelling, which emphasizes vivid moments over narrative payoff. Still, those moments are frequently poignant and—as drawn by Oubrerie—filled with the atmosphere of a hot, dusty country flush with excess cash… B
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Featured artists

Charles Burns
Abouet & Oubrerie

           Featured products

Aya
One Eye




Chris Ware on Charles Burns in VQR

Updated February 9, 2007


Charles Burns' One Eye is excerpted in the Winter 2007 Virginia Quarterly Review (Vol. 83, No. 1) along with a glowing intro from Chris Ware.

"[Burns’ images] show a remarkably colorful range of feeling and a curious compositional acumen... [The] 'internal perspectives' that they suggest... are refreshingly approachable and unassuming. I find it amazing that although they originated simply as an exercise, they ended up both uncertainly poetic and certainly lucid, with a visual clarity that is characteristically Charles’ own." -Chris Ware
 
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Featured artists

Chris Ware
Charles Burns

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One Eye





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