SHOWCASE 3 and PYONGYANG in the Patriot-News

“GRAPHIC LIT” / The Patriot-News / Christopher Mautner / December 4, 2005

"Drawn & Quarterly Showcase Vol. 3," Drawn and Quarterly, 96 pages, $14.95.

Genevieve Elverum, Sammy Harkham and Matt Broersma are the featured artists in this latest edition of D&Q's squarebound anthology. All three cartoonists create striking works here, though I'm particularly taken with Elverum's surreal tone-poem involving elephants, yetis and abject loneliness. This series remains a great way to be introduced to new work, and if you haven't heard of any of these artists, this is a fine place to start.

"Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea" by Guy Delisle, Drawn and Quarterly, 176 pages, $19.95.

An animator, Delisle spent several months in the capital of North Korea overseeing the outsourcing work of a particular cartoon. His experiences make up this book, a surreal and rather frightening look at life under one of the only utterly totalitarian regimes left on the globe.

Delisle paints a rather disturbing portrait of a land where every aspect of daily life is dedicated toward slavishly honoring its leaders, the deceased Kim Il-Sung and his son Kim Jong-Il. Anything with implications that all is not well (and there are plenty) are ignored for fear of never being seen again.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about "Pyongyang" is that despite spending time in North Korea, Delisle gets no nearer to understanding its citizens than the rest of us. The country is a frozen mask propped up with the shakiest of equipment. Delisle does a superb job of showing us the ultimate cost of maintaining such an artifice.

Christopher Mautner
 

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