Monday, December 28, 2009

Anthology review by LA Weekly critic Doug Harvey

The Anthology is featured on LA Weekly art critic Doug Harvey's "mostly psychedelic" X-mas shopping list--a reaction to what he sees as other, more boring "top ten art books of 2009" lists. (The anthology is actually discussed on page 2 of the article).

While we’re torturing geeks, I have to put in a good word for Andrei Molotiu’s Abstract Comics: The Anthology, also from Fantagraphics. Given the historical simultaneity of modern art and graphic narrative, and the considerable amount of crossover between the traditions (Japanese ukiyo-e prints, pop art, etc.) it seems odd that there hasn’t been a movement to bring the language of nonrepresentational painting into the narrativizing sequential structure of comics. As editor (and contributor) Molotiu points out in his introductory essay, artists like Hans Richter and Oskar Fischinger were quick to successfully translate geometric abstraction into the equally narrative-prone language of cinema. Many of the best works here could in fact be storyboards for animations. But the thing is, most comic readers are primarily interested in the medium’s conventional storytelling potential, often vitriolically so. The collection has a wealth of rewarding material, some of it awkward, some groundbreaking — on the whole, it is a significant historical document that may jump-start an actual new genre. I’d have liked to have seen the fine-art examples reproduced on equal footing with the contemporary comic art, and some love for Jess and Oyvind Fahlstrom, but that’s what volume 2 is for, right?


  1. "that's what volume 2is for." Niiiiice. And...I agree. About the need for a volume 2 -- less so about "most comic readers are primarily interested in the medium’s conventional storytelling potential." He who speaks for all or even most comics readers assembles men out of straw.

  2. I've seen visual poet & artist Öyvind Fahlström's name a few times, in connection with abstract comics.

    can anyone show us any examples of his abstract comics related work?


  3. Hey --- I AM a fine artist, and I'm in it. He needed to reserach a couple of our names farther!

  4. if I remember correctly Fahlstrom's images aren't abstract but his lack of determined narrative situations might put them into the abstract comic category.


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