A while back I reviewed the graphic novel Blue by Australian artist Pat Grant and one of the things that I mentioned as being my favorite part of the book, was the essay written at the back where Pat discussed comics history in Australia. [...]
A while back I reviewed the graphic novel Blue by Australian artist Pat Grant and one of the things that I mentioned as being my favorite part of the book, was the essay written at the back where Pat discussed comics history in Australia. And for some reason I completely blanked on how that reminded me of another graphic novel Hicksville, by Australian artist Dylan Horrcks. Because in Hicksville, Dylan creates a comic history for Australia. World renowned artists from all walks of life ranging from Picasso to Jack Kirby, come to this small town in Australia to work on a masterpiece…and leave it behind for the residents of Hicksville. The residents treasure these works of art, which often only have a few copies printed, and through this small town Australia is given a comics history.
Dick Burger has made millions and is one of the most powerful people in the comics industry. He’s often compared to comic legends like Jack Kirby for revitalizing the industry and Stan Lee stands in awe of him. Leonard Batts, a comics biographer, begins the process of creating the definitive book on Burger. But as Batts begins his research he finds Burger has a dark secret back in his home town of Hicksville–a small remote town in New Zealand where comics legends come and the library has books found no where else in the world. Will Batts survive discovering this secret or will it drive him to the edge of destruction?
When I first finished reading Hicksville, I have to admit I was confused in a few places over what I read and the interspersion of the minicomics throughout the story, but at the same time I knew this was a book I wanted to read again and maybe a few more times just for good measure. The minicomics, which at first I found a bit confusing, are the characters ways of communicating with us. Telling us their story in their own words as best as they can. It adds a deeper layer to the story, creating characters that are richer and have a greater history to them. But more than that this book is Dylan’s love letter to the comics world, his way of perhaps saying that the best comics in the world…are those ones that aren’t published. And that sometimes the biggest and most talked about folks in the industry…aren’t the greatest. Sometimes it’s the small quiet ones that change the world. In many ways the story line reminds me of some of the subtleness of Twain’s short story “Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven” as Twain makes some of the same comparisons to that the greatest in a given area might be the ones that you’ve never heard of before.
The artwork is more primitive and rough than I think what most people are probably used to, but at the same time it has its own evocative power and style to it, especially as Dylan blends together the stories with the short comics–each having it’s own style to set it apart. And sometimes the drawings and figures are so big that the frames themselves can’t contain them and the characters take on a life of their own carrying the story with them.
If you’re a fan of graphic novels or the comics industry…or even if you aren’t–pick up this book and give it a read. Then read it a second or third time just to see what you missed. You won’t regret it.
Written and drawn by: Nicolas Robel
Published by: Drawn & Quarterly
I liken the visual style of Fallen Angel to that of a kaleidoscope—we see colorful fragments of reality, all of which coalesce to form a particular picture, or series of pictures. The slightest movement, the most fragile repositioning, and the image is lost forever, replaced by a new, equally colorful and disjointed mosaic.
Each page of Fallen Angel is a kaleidoscopic vision of sorts. Writer/artist Nicolas Robel draws—rather, paints—a breathtaking sequence of irksome visuals paired ever so carefully, ever so peculiarly, with a phrase, an utterance, perhaps a short sentence or two.
It took all of two minutes to read this book, and another hour or so to reread it—each page, each interaction, each monologue, confuses further the book’s potential meanings.
Fallen Angel is a young man’s, perhaps an older boy’s, internalized struggle to find meaning—and ultimately identity—in a world he understands naught, and which he is at a loss to describe, much less fit into.
Barnabé, our hero, seeks simplicity, relative comfort, and above all keen insight into himself. Armed with knowledge sought after but not found, he falls deeper and deeper into the quagmire of a full-blown existential crisis—suicide, murder, the destruction of the known world—these are fantasies made almost palpable for Barnabé, who cannot help but feel anger and resentment toward a world and society seemingly unwilling to embrace him, or at least help him find his way.
Through tormented dreams and tortuous hallucinations, Barnabé indeed does find something—what that something is, or rather its relative value, is of course determined not by Barnabé or his author but by the reader.
Illustrated fiction this engaging, this sensual, this overtly psychological, is a rare find. I highly recommend Fallen Angel to those brave enough, and clever enough, to read it.
- Prismatic Wanderings in Nicolas Robel’s Fallen Angel (comicsforge.com)
- A Fallen Angel~by rldubour (ourpoetrycorner.wordpress.com)
- Since when do Gingerbread Men sell ice cream? Examining Greg Cook’s Catch As Catch Can… (comicsforge.com)
- Fallen – A Book Review (nishitak.wordpress.com)
Have you ever wondered what goes through the mind of an artist before they start work on a project? Or what they do when they aren’t working on a specific project and are just drawing? [...]
Have you ever wondered what goes through the mind of an artist before they start work on a project? Or what they do when they aren’t working on a specific project and are just drawing? Well this book gives you a good indication of what happens. I’m not sure if this is excerpts or an entire sketchbook, but David Collier gives us insights into how he sees the world and what he thinks of it.
This book covers a time period in David’s life when he was moving cross-country back to Hamilton. He tells us in the introduction how he’s fascinated with the architecture of the area and in preserving it. And while he doesn’t really show much of the architecture he does share with us multiple stories…stories of his family, of the travel to a new area, of figuring out who they are and those that are around them. David quickly captures the sights, sounds, and stories of the world around him for a revealing look at not only Hamilton, but also his own family and himself. The book contains quick sketches, never very detailed, but often with little stories next to them to let the reader know what’s happening.
Being an artist myself, it’s interesting to see what another artist chooses to sketch as it gives insight into how they view the world around them. In this book David offers quick insights into why he drew what he did and what he was thinking at the time. I’m not really familiar with his other works so I don’t have much to compare it too, but this does seem to be his normal drawing style. Minus of course the few places where people have swelled heads and weird proportions (it’s a sketchbook after all.) He’s tried to organize it a bit into chapters, such as the move, family, road trips and so on. I think it might have been a little bit more interesting to see just the pages from the sketchbook as they appear in the sketchbook versus the organization and trying to tell a story. While I understand why he tried to organize it, I actually think it’s actually a bit more confusing this way. I mean we see mention of the move in 8 different chapters, because it was a big event. But instead of keeping it together, he tried to group everything into some subcategory based upon the drawing or the story. And to me that’s a bit disrupting. But…then again maybe we wouldn’t have seen the variety of stories or drawings if it had just been straight from the sketchbook.
Overall though I’m not really sure what to say about this book. It’s a sketchbook. That pretty much says it all to me. It’s fun to peruse through it and see bits and pieces of different stories, but…I’d recommend this to anyone that likes David Collier or just wants to take a peek into the artist brain. Otherwise its ok, but not a must have for everyone.
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