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New D&Q titles wickedly funny, according to Fast Forward Weekly

Updated September 11, 2013


"New batch of Drawn & Quarterly releases wickedly funny: Comics find humour in everything from pop culture to parenting"

by Bryn Evans
Fast Forward Weekly, July 18, 2013

A pack of new Drawn and Quarterly releases proves just how wickedly versatile humour is within the comics medium.

The best of the bunch is Lisa Hanawalt’s My Dirty Dumb Eyes, a psychoanalytic grab bag of comics, sketches, movie reviews and other assorted oddities.

Her illustrated review of Steven Spielberg’s War Horse gained some online attention recently, with its mix of awkward personal confession, digressive pop-culture tidbits, observations on how stupid audiences can be, and a sharp critical eye. The other movie reviews are equally hilarious. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a paranoid rumination on why she hates monkeys, while her review of Drive tries to determine where Ryan Gosling’s psychotic character sits on the scale of stoic versus autistic action heroes.

The rest of the pieces combine the same love of the personal and cultural, like a scatological mediation on artistic practice. (Hanawalt’s practice, anyway.) Add a healthy predilection for drawing giant, life-like lizards in lingerie and you have the ideal kind of cartoon collection — something to be randomly dipped into again and again. She notes that alternate titles included Dick Lizards and Boob Dogs: A Memoir and What We Draw About When We Draw About Sex Bugs. Both descriptions are equally apt.

Another collection, Animals With Sharpies, is exactly what it sounds like — animals writing insults, confessions and assorted dumb things with a black Sharpie. If you liked Toronto-based illustrator Graham Roumieu’s bitter and hilarious Bigfoot books, you’ll love this.

The series of one-page painted panels combine the same knuckle-headed comedy (animals have terrible grammar, apparently) with a kind of deeply depressing, Schopenhauerian philosophy. It’s a kid’s book for smarty-pants grown-ups.

That isn’t meant as a backhanded compliment. Like Hanawalt’s collection, Animals is the best kind of cartoon book — less the sum of its parts and more made for maximum flipability. Though there are a few moments that are simply a rumination on “What would an animal say if it could talk,” Canadian creators Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber are more interested in the idea of what you can do with a plain rectangular panel and a Sharpie — everything from simple lines and shading, to jokes, Morse code, lists, scribbles, Bible passages and more.

Tom Gauld’s collected series of snappy and sardonic comic strips, You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, first appeared in The Guardian, and it’s great to have all of these poisonous little gems in one place.

The Scottish cartoonist’s clean, designer-like style suits the bitter content, with diminutive stick figures, maps and diagrams cataloguing a course of modern failure and disillusionment. It also serves as a deadly attack on artistic pretentiousness, taking shots at just about everyone — critics, writers, musicians and academics. (The title refers to science fiction’s marginalization outside so-called “proper literature.”)

The ghost of Edward Gorey is an obvious presence as well, with many of the strips displaying the same faux-Victorian language and dry, macabre humour. Gauld can be relentlessly depressing, but hilariously so. You’ll want to gorge on the comics, but that might prove to be too much for one sitting.

Finally, Quebec’s Guy Delisle (Pyongyang, Burma Chronicles) returns with another autobiographical tale. Unlike his earlier travelogues, A User’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting is much closer to home, a series of comic strips detailing the gentle hijinks and varied misadventures of fatherhood.

Delisle’s oft-grim sensibility and mischievousness packs a bigger bite here, with his two young children repeatedly falling victim to their father’s twisted sense of humour.

The slim volume offers a different side to Delisle’s cartooning, appearing more like a collection of Sunday morning strips than a graphic novel. It’s a quick read, with the sparse panels and pages racing from joke to joke.

I wouldn’t call Delisle’s approach to parenting neglectful — it’s too involved and witty to be such. It’s traumatic, crass and occasionally cruel, perhaps, but certainly not neglectful.
 
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Featured artists

Michael Dumontier & Neil Farber
Tom Gauld
Lisa Hanawalt

           Featured products

You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack
Animals With Sharpies
My Dirty Dumb Eyes




  The Playboy and Animals with Sharpies make BLOUIN ARTINFO Canada's list of top art books for spring

Updated September 10, 2013


"BLOUIN ARTINFO Canada's Top Six Art Books for Spring"

by Rea McNamara, Sky Goodden
BLOUIN ARTINFO Canada, May 8, 2013

ARTINFO Canada rounds up the most substantial art reads of the spring season:

“Glamour is Theft: A User’s Guide to General Idea 1969-1978” (D.A.P., $40)

The Art Gallery of York University’s Philip Monk provides a survey of the “pageantry of camp parody” in the work of Canadian collective General Idea, from their early mail art works to the 1977 “destruction” of “The 1984 Miss General Idea Pavilion.” Following the collective’s strategies, Monk (in his typically abstruse but winking style) mimics the structuralist and semiological language and approach of Roland Barthes in his analysis.

“The Playboy” (Drawn & Quarterly, $16.95)

Chester Brown’s first graphic novel — not to mention the first graphic novel Montreal’s Drawn & Quarterly ever published — is now available in an expanded and even re-formatted soft-cover re-issue. Expect in this early autographical portrait of Brown’s “Playboy” adolescent shame, new lettering and format, re-drawn panels, as well as a new appendices and author notes.

“Seeing and Believing” (Black Dog Publishing, $29.95)

This illustrated overview of Canadian Neo-Conceptualist Luis Jacob focuses on the three recent exhibitions that have affirmed his rising star — Fonderie Darling’s “Tableaux Vivants,” MOCCA’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” and the McCord Museum’s “The Eye, the Hole, the Picture” — exploring how he’s consistently questioned what lies beneath a picture, and the framing of our encounters with visual art.

“The Last Frontier” (ABC Art Books Canada, $50)

The first monograph of the UK-based Canadian artist Kelly Richardson is a trip through her hyper-real cinematic installations of the last 15 years; post-apocalyptic visions that merge with references like B-movie science fiction, dystopic landscape painting, and wildlife cinematography. Most of the works included stem from her recent mid-career retrospective at Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

“Working as a Drawing” (Burnaby Art Gallery, $48.95)

This process-oriented “bookwork” culls images from the files and archives of Micah Lexier. A “thirty years in the making” project, the publication includes newly-discovered drawings from 1980 to 2012 that reveal the artist’s process and approach.

“Animals with Sharpies” (Drawn & Quarterly, $16.95)

A second petit livre from former Royal Art Lodge founding members Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber, “Animals with Sharpies” brings together a mix of both new and old paintings that explore the absurd, hilarious, twee, and poignant sharpie messages of the animal kingdom.
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Featured artists

Chester Brown
Michael Dumontier & Neil Farber

           Featured products

The Playboy
Animals With Sharpies




Neil Farber in COMPLEX magazine

Updated January 17, 2012



Canadian artist Neil Farber is a man of great wit. His mix of mythological and psychological characters interact on crowded canvases, forming bizarre narratives and unconventional stories. You need to look closely, and when you do a whole world of "WTF?!?" is revealed and the whole exercise is worth it. Click the thumbs for more examples of Farber's work.
 
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Featured artist

Michael Dumontier & Neil Farber

           Featured product

Constructive Abandonment




  Telegraph Journal reviews CONSTRUCTIVE ABANDONMENT

Updated August 25, 2011


Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber are the founding members of an influential art collective from Winnipeg called The Royal Art Lodge (R.I.P.-1996-2008). This is a collection of contemporary representational art, beautifully rendered in a compact hardcover edition.

Drawn and Quarterly rarely disappoints when it comes to either graphic novel or art books. The transcendent and childlike paintings are often humorous in their naďveté but there are also darker discordant sides to the pieces, and therein lays their strength.

Dumontier and Farber's paintings of animals and people, sometimes hybridized, seem to be bestialized by the burden of existence. The interaction between the text and the image is very powerful, funny and melancholic, violent and surreal, demanding an active reading from the reader/viewer.

In one of the paintings, a dejected man sits uncomfortably in a chair with a blue hand puppet, arm extended, the caption reads: "He would win back the children." The reader immediately imagines a bereaved father, what could he have done to lose his children? Moreover, the dismal attempt of an isolated man to win back his children with a hand puppet.

Some of the images are more cryptic, and elude a facile interpretation, such as, the image of a white coffin teetering on the top of a boulder, engulfed in darkness, the caption reads: "At the bottom of the world, a coffin full of stars."

The Book, Constructive Abandonment, like the title suggests, is an abdication of good for what ails you.
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Featured artist

Michael Dumontier & Neil Farber

           Featured product

Constructive Abandonment




CONSTRUCTIVE ABANDONMENT is "charmingly absurd" says Uptown

Updated August 4, 2011


The Royal Art Lodge disbanded in 2008 but founding members Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber still collaborate. They recently published a book of illustrations called Constructive Abandonment (Drawn & Quarterly). The paintings in the collection feature adults, children and animals in charmingly absurd, sometimes melancholy situations. Most of the pictures have some text that complements the image. I'm especially fond of the animals, such as a horse and mouse hitting the road with a cardboard box labelled "Squeak and Chester’s Stuff."
 
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Featured artist

Michael Dumontier & Neil Farber

           Featured product

Constructive Abandonment




  National Post wowed by the absurdity of CONSTRUCTIVE ABANDONMENT

Updated August 1, 2011


Every Wednesday evening, Michael Dumontier heads over to the home of his friend Neil Farber, takes a seat at the kitchen table, and spends the night painting with his fellow artist. Canvases are traded back and forth, each adding details to the work until it is complete, a process that often requires multiple sessions. Farber estimates they've collaborated on "thousands" of paintings over the years, 61 of which are collected in a recently released survey of their recent work, Constructive Abandonment.

The work featured in the book, which is published by Drawn & Quarterly, is at once horrific and hilarious: A man dubbed the "manicorn" sits contemplating the horn growing out of his forehead; an "African Fellatiating House Frog" suckles a table leg; an alligator and monkey re-enact an episode of Dragnet; a pirate sentenced to walk the plank is reassured that "nympho mermaids" await him below the surface; a suicidal dog imagines running away from his owner and leaping off a nearby bridge; and, just when things couldn't get anymore bizarre, a sword-wielding raccoon comes to the aid of a man fighting a green dinosaur.

"The beginning of the process is very loose," Dumontier says of the pair's artistic methods. "We add things to the paintings rather indiscriminately at first. But there's a point where we have to slow down and talk. If a painting is created by combining random elements, we'll talk about how to tie those elements together. We can do this by adding more, or by writing a text that gives the image context - often both."

If you are versed in the strange aesthetic of these two Winnipeggers, the paintings found in Constructive Abandonment should come as no surprise; Dumontier and Farber are two of the founding members of the Royal Art Lodge (may it rest in peace), the legendary collective that has introduced the art world to the likes of Marcel Dzama. Although the Lodge officially dissolved in 2008, Dumontier and Farber have continued to work together - an alliance that has existed for roughly 15 years.

"It's really comfortable at this point," says Farber, on the phone from his home in Winnipeg, while Dumontier chalks up the duo's success to "a lot of hours of trial and error. We've developed a way of working together, which has little to do with the way we each work on our own. For me, it's a nice break from the time I spend working by myself in the studio."

Although their work is often visually stunning, the punchlines, for lack of a better word, frequently come from text, not images. A man with a sock puppet becomes even more tragic when you read his intentions: "He would win back the children." A shadowy figure tossing a garbage bag off a boat becomes even more sinister thanks to a caption describing the bag's contents as "decapitated head, bowling ball." The image of a wizard looking down at a giant toad gains new meaning thanks to the addition of the word "irrevocable." And the painting of a man with a frog-like creature perched on his shoulder could be the start of a short story when you learn "they arrived in Europe to find that audiences were no more receptive than the ones at home."

Dumontier agrees that the captions, which come last, have become the most important part of their work.

"We often spend more time trying to get the words right than we do making the paintings themselves. We have a book called The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale that has become our most valuable resource. It's better than any thesaurus I've ever seen."
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Featured artist

Michael Dumontier & Neil Farber

           Featured product

Constructive Abandonment




Design Week shakes the midsummer blues with CONSTRUCTIVE ABANDONMENT

Updated June 27, 2011


If, like some of the DW team, you were thrown into a grump after the realisation that following tonight's midsummer eve the days are only going to get shorter, then new book, Constructive Abandonment, by Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber may well appeal.

The book, which has been realised by Canadian independent publisher Drawn & Quarterly (well worth checking out, if you haven't before), features a series of child-like, often humorous, paintings of animals and children weighed down by the pressures of life.

The book offers up often comic and sometimes moving scenes, including a manatee delivering a first aid box to a drowning man, a sword-wielding chap and racoon fighting a dinosaur and a young boy retching into a towl with the caption 'Grandma's Potroast'. There are also some excellent visual examples of the 'werge' - including a 'Manicorn' - half man, half unicorn - and 'Grampoline' - an elderly trampolinist.

The strength of the paintings is their naive style coupled with the incongruous, and sometimes dark, captioning. It's an entertaining read, charming enough to shake off even the most stubborn Midsummer blues.

 
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Featured artist

Michael Dumontier & Neil Farber

           Featured product

Constructive Abandonment




  Juxtapoz Magazine adores CONSTRUCTIVE ABANDONMENT

Updated June 6, 2011



Book Release: "Constructive Abandonment: Michael Dumontier & Neil Farber"
Thursday June 02, 2011


COVER
The Royal Art Lodge was one of our favorite art collectives ever assembled (Michael Dumontier, Neil Farber, and Marcel Dzama), and two founding member, Winnipeg's Dumontier and Farber, have continued to collaborate and have a new book just released, Constructive Abandonment. The book is published by Drawn & Quarterly.

The book sits at 7" x 7", with 64 pages of Dumontier and Farber's small paintings, quick absurd comedic moments that the two have been known for. As Drawn & Quarterly notes, "the text varies from straightforward to even more abstract and nonsensical than the images that it accompanies. The paintings reference child’s play or literature and some are seemingly without reference, completely untethered.

We have a 14-page interview with Mr. Farber in the upcoming July 2011 issue of Juxtapoz. Stay tuned for it.
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Featured artist

Michael Dumontier & Neil Farber

           Featured product

Constructive Abandonment





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