Monday, August 31, 2009

Abstraction in Comics: a week-long series

"Winnie Winkle" from Monday, July 6, 1959, by Martin Branner. Previously Winnie and her friend Janie met Hector the beatnik at the Espresso House cafe. Here are the previous three strips, to set the scene:

And now for today's feature presentation. Take it away, Martin:

To be continued...

(Reproduced from the original art. The glue used to paste the dot screens has turned brown, as you can see in panel 1. I'm considering making that last panel a permanent fixture at the top of this page. No, really. Really! Ok, maybe not. But it would be funny, right? Or maybe the third panel would be even better... And don't you think these would have been perfect material for Roy Lichtenstein?)


Sunday, August 30, 2009

some recent small ones

Just what I've been up to lately.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

sidewalk roadtrip

I found an animation experiment back that I made in 2005 .
Not abstract, but an abstraction. It's moving and produces sound.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Guest Spot Diary Strip!

Hey Abstractopeeps, 

This week I did a guest spot on Jesse Reklaw's daily diary strip...

(It's not an abstract comic but you get a bit of abstractyness here and there and maybe even a special bonus sexy abstract comic within the comic!)

More abstract comics in the works to be posted here soon!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

a prediction

I just removed the post I wrote a few days ago. I think I'm too involved in this project to be able to offer an objective opinion.

instead, I'll offer a prediction:

due in large part to the publication of the anthology, & in just as large a part due to this blog, other abstract comics anthologies will emerge within the next 2 years.

I can imagine sub-genres developing, much as heavy metal in the '80s spawned speed metal, thrash metal, death metal, black metal, & crossbred to produce grindcore & so on.

maybe we'll see:
all-female abstract comics
black & white abcomix
digital ab comics (no physical originals)
chaos/completely crazy style
non-Anglo & non-Franco abs

& so on...

personally, I go for the more chaotic black & white ones.

if my prediction hasn't come true by 1 September 2011, you can laugh derisively at me & tell me I was wrong!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Abstract 11b Series 3 ‘Lines’

Abstract 11b Another version of Abstract 11a This is another of my works which I am happy with. I like the idea that all the 'action' of the comic is happening within the panel frame, not in the panel or in the gutter.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Doodle from my sketchbook

I've been pretty remiss about posting lately, so here's something I sketched out a few weeks ago and colored tonight:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Abstract 3 Series 2 remix

Abstract 3 Series 2 remix. This is my favourite remix to date. The black gutter really creates a fragmented, distorted, disorientating feel which I am really happy with. The panels strangely remind me of the TV screen, like watching distorted TV.
original Abstract 3

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Both of these were inked on the plane (yes, I got some strange looks from other passengers and flight attendants) coming back from the MoCCA Fest in New York to Portland, Oregon and then colored this week.

This one is probably more *graphomania than comic:

For this next one, I was thinking more of a narrative - a folk tale about traveling to another land, fighting in a battle and coming back home drunk (I only had one beer on the flight back but I was pretty fried from the whole trip.)
Of this battle, I only remember this:

Thanks for lookin' and readin', folks!

*I'm working up a post about "graphomania".


An animation project by Antonio Linhares:

The excuse for posting it is, of course, the abstract animation.

The real reason is that any blog can use some Raymond Scott every once in a while.

So, with no excuse whatsoever, here's a bonus clip of someone's cute newborn being spun around to Scott's "Lullaby":

Because any blog can use some Raymond Scott and cute newborns every once in a while.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Highly biased appreciations

Several of our contributors have posted their responses to the book. Well, ok, so they're biased, but they're still fun to read:

Patrick McDonnell

Anders Pearson


New Reviews (and not just in English)

I'm back from working on the "Silent Pictures" show in NYC, and can resume my duties of keeping up with our rave press coverage!

Chris Mautner, who wrote a really nice blurb when he chose the anthology as his pick of the week, has made good on his promise to write a longer review:

...even if the very mention of the word “abstract” makes you poke your fingers in your ears and go “La la la la”, I’d strongly recommend the book, as it contains a number of strikingly beautiful images and sequences...For years, comics (at least American ones) have doggedly refused for one reason or another, to consider other schools of art and beyond mere representation. It’s only now we see artists attempting to branch out and try to push at the edge’s of the medium’s definition. As such I found Abstract Comics to be a revealing, thought-provoking and genuinely lovely book that I’ll be sure to be rereading in the months to come.

Thanks, Chris!

And we have received what seems to be our first foreign-language review, by Alvaro Pons:

...el volumen Abstract Comics recién editado por Fantagraphics permite ir un paso más allá y trascender la definición aceptada de historieta hasta dejarla obsoleta, comprobando que las posibilidades expresivas de este medio y de este lenguaje son todavía desconocidas. Cuando parece que la gramática y semántica del noveno arte comienzan a ser conocidas, la propuesta planteada por Andrei Molotiu derrumba por completo la arquitectura formal para demostrar que existen puertas no exploradas que pueden descubrir claves nuevas necesarias para comprender en toda su profundidad y extensión qué es la historieta....
No sería entonces la narrativa el elemento fundamental de definición del cómic, sino la secuencialidad y la composición como generadores de vehículos sensoriales visuales con componentes espaciales y temporales (e incluso sinestésicas).
La historieta es todavía más apasionante de lo que creíamos…

If, despite my poor mastery of Spanish, I understand correctly what Alvaro is saying, then I can only reply, "Yes!"

Monday, August 17, 2009


When is a comic not a comic?

When it is a Gang by Richard Prince
This looks like a Abstract Comic to me
found here
There isn't many images of his 'gangs' on the net but what I saw struck me as being comics under another name. Or at least being able to be interpreted as comics, abstract or otherwise. I can see why they are not comics, he is interested in different ideas, they are collections or gangs of similar images. Still I find them really interesting in terms of my own abstract comics exploration.

Gang (Fashion), 1982-1984
Black and white photograph
I really want to put word balloons within the panels
found here

So what do people think? Are they Comics? Does anyone know more about him? Is there any other 'fine arts' artists who don't know they are making abstract comics?

Thanks Dick Whyte for showing me Richard Prince.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Abstract 7 series 3

Abstract 7 is another comic looking at the gutter of comics

Monday, August 10, 2009

New interview about the Anthology and more

Interview with yours truly at

Also, which one of you called this guy an idiot for needing more narrative in his comics? I know I didn't, and wouldn't, so I'm not quite sure what he's talking about. I'm guessing he has us confused with some other anthology.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

In Color!

I've posted all my color abstract comics seen so far on this blog in the color galleries on my website.

To view them, click on the color shapes that look like this:

or one of these links:

[The Green Gallery]-[The Blue Gallery]-[The Purple Gallery]

[The Red Gallery]-[The Orange Gallery]-[The Yellow Gallery]

...then you can click on the shapes at the bottom of each page.

(I'll be making a gallery of all the black and white ones soon.)

P.S. I got my comp. copies today! Thanks Fantagraphics! and Andrei too of course!

and everyone who contributed! and everyone who buys it!

Abstract 17 Series 3 ‘Lines’ page 6

Abstract 17 is a six page experiment. Page one is here. I was interested in exploring several ideas. Breaking up and spreading out the elements of a comic over several pages. Seeing if people would use these elements to create narrative. How viewing these pages on the Internet would effect how people viewed these images.
I also like this comic page on its own for its pure miminalism.

Do you remember when...

..."abstract comics" was such an absurd idea that it could be invoked as a joke? Well, you probably don't. Here's an example:

That's right - "narrative" comics (compared to, what, abstract comics featuring tetrahedrons?) are a great new art form!

Ha ha! "Abstract comics featuring tetrahedrons"! What a hilarious concept! Because everyone knows all comics tell stories, right? Right?

To illustrate this post, I googled "tetrahedrons" and here's something that showed up, from here:

As it says, this "image shows a series of formations that can appear in water, by simply vibrating it at “pure” (Diatonic) sound frequencies. The white lines are caused by tiny free-floating particles suspended in the water, which are gathered up by the pressures of the three-dimensional waves. Hexagonal structures are clearly visible in the centers of the top-right and bottom-right panes, and the top-right pane has two very clear tetrahedrons in it, exactly as they appear on planets in the HD model. The tetrahedrons look like a snowflake from this angle." Which also may interest Mike... :)

Here are some more tetrahedrons--or just one in 3-D, if you want to do that cross-your-eyes thingy:

Friday, August 7, 2009


A new review of the Anthology by comicsgirl.

And she is right when it comes to including women in the book.
But I'm sure Andrei would feature them if they excist and make good abstract comics.
Maybe they are somewhere out there and we need to find them.
Or maybe because there are very few abstract comics artists and because most comics are still made by men, there must be an even smaller amount of women working in this field.

So girlz, come on, start making abstract comics!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Petit Trait by Baladi

I just published a review on my blog of Baladi's "Petit Trait", an abstract comic in L'Association's Patte de Mouche series. Not a shining example of abstract comics, it was published in late 2008.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

visual poem by John Moore Williams

from (his others are in different styles)


Oh yeah, it's Wednesday...

The book is in the stores! So go down to your LCBS, and feast your eyes. (And, oh yeah, buy it.)

To celebrate, here is an image you will not see anywhere else. When designing the cover, Jacob "resident design genius" Covey came up with two possibilities. We picked one (obviously!). Here's the one we didn't pick--which is still pretty great too:

not the actual cover, folks!  Scroll down!

Of course, if you go to the comic-book shop to look for that cover, you won't find it--so, to remind you (and for comparison purposes), here's what the actual cover looks like (yes, I know, posted here for the millionth time):

actual cover, damn right!

Which one would you have picked?

Brandl: Batman Abstract? No, but Thor and Captain Bold

As Andrei pointed out, one of the nifftiest comments about "our" anthology has been Deadpool who said, "Can you imagine batman done in that kind of drawing style, I think it owuld be freaking awesome." Thanks million Deady!

Some one of us will have to work on that! I haven't done Batman yet, But I did do a large, two panel oil and acrylic painting (105 x 210 cm / 41 in x 833 in) back in 2001, which was based on a part of the drawing of Thor's bicep by Kirby, right, with a similar bicep drawn by my highly-Kirby-influenced comic artist friend Gary Scoles --- when he and I were only about 11 years old, and of his character (which I also drew), Captain Bold. That is on the left. It is overlayed with two snippets of handwriting, "s" and "p," from a friend in Switzerland who is a novelist, from the German word "Spezial." I wasn't fully into complete sequentiality then, but it was creeping up on me! It was exhibited in a show of mine in Paris (France, the real one), which I did with the experimental New Music composer Duncan Youngerman. He did a great concert in the space of a piece he did inspired by comic artists of the Silver Age.
Oh yeah --- it's titled Team-Up for obvious reasons

And they keep coming...

Chris Mautner pick of the week at Comic Book Resources:

Making this my pick of the week isn’t going to do anything to alleviate my reputation as Snooty McSnootenstein, mayor of Snobville, but this is one hell of a gorgeous book. Answering the question, “Do comics need to have a narrative or be representational in order to still be comics?” with a decisive “Hell, yes,” editor Andrei Molotiu has put together a stunning collection of work from folks like Robert Crumb, Mark Badger, Gary Panter, Patrick McDonnell and Lewis Trondheim. A full review will appear here sometime soon, but in the meantime I’ll just say I liked this book very, very much.

Thanks, Chris! But... I think you mean "Hell, no!"

J. Caleb Mozzocco at Newsarama:

Abstract Comics Anthology: I’m one of those who considers the first two words of this title to be an oxymoron. That, ironically, probably makes me a good candidate for reading this book. It’s edited by art historian and abstract-comic creator Andrei Molotiu and, according to publisher Fantagraphics, it is “the first collection devoted to this budding genre.” You can’t argue with the list of contributors: R. Crumb, Patrick McDonnell, Mark Badger, Gary Panter, Lewis Trondheim, James Kochalka, Blaise Larmee, Panayiotis Terzis, Noah Berlatsky and a whole mess of others. It’s $40 for 200 pages, and you can take a look here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Jog and Douglas Wolk have their say

Douglas Wolk:


Some serious coffee-table-book action here: an Andrei Molotiu-edited anthology of comics that are just abstract images in sequence, by people from the fine-art and art-comics world, as well as some people I wouldn't have expected: Patrick McDonnell? Mark Badger? Of course, a lot of the fun of reading this is noticing your mind automatically trying to impose narrative on these abstractions. If you want to get a taste of what it's like, Molotiu also runs the Abstract Comics blog.


Abstract Comics: The Anthology: You wanted this. You may not have known it, and you probably didn't say it, but your heart was read, your soul scoured, your eyes met to understand what your mind could only scream in silence. Abstract comics. Wednesday is almost here. Let them in. I can vouch for Fantagraphics' production values too: the copy I fiddled with at MoCCA was a really lovely hardcover item, very nicely produced. Editor Andrei Molotiu presents 232 pages of works, ranging from vintage pieces to new efforts, by artists both well-known (Robert Crumb, Gary Panter, Victor Moscoso, Patrick McDonnell, James Kochalka) and less familiar (though you might know a few). Large sample here, but don't stop there; your $39.99 gets you what's looking like the most intriguing comics anthology of 2009.

I'm going to have to start excerpting some of these reviews for blurbs, and post them here (and elsewhere!), preferably with exclamation points after them.

I should add: I'm hoping that both Douglas and Joe end up doing full reviews of the book. I would love to read them.

My favorite comment so far

From here:

You know, it kinda would be.


Monday, August 3, 2009


From 2004 - in expectation of our latest review...

That's nice, I guess...


Abstract Comics Anthology HC

Fantagraphics' newest anthology is a collection of, well, read the title. I saw the book at MoCCA, and
it looked pretty nice, which was actually contrary to my expectations. It's definitely more of an art piece, but you can't really expect anything else, I guess. Still, it's fascinating to see what you can do with comics when you're dealing with non-representational, non-narrative imagery, stretching the limits of the medium. Give it a look, artsy-fartsy types! You can download an excerpt at Fanta's site.

Abstract Comics: surpassing expectations since 2009!

It's Monday... Do you know what's happening on Wednesday?

"Abstract Comics: The Anthology" will be in comic-book stores!

(Direct Market only, I'm afraid--I don't know exactly when it will be in bookstores. But soon.)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

"Nee Nina we hebben geen abstracte strips."


At first, thank you Andrei for inviting and introducing me here.

Since 2006 my work is focused on drawing. During my study in artschool I did painting, animation and drawing.

I've always been interested in the narrative character of images, but I wasn't always charmed by all figurative forms I found. In 2008 I began drawing abstract and writing short stories. Now I am working on a book with short stories with my publisher (De Harmonie). I also just started working on an abstract comic book because I finally found a language in abstract image to build a story with.

Influences come from the world around me, from music and literature to people or the bottom of a shoe. Visual art related I can mention for example: Rene Daniels, Edvard Munch, Georg Baselitz, Cy Twombly, Mark Manders, Philip Guston, Per Kirkeby, Willem Kooning and Pierre Alechinsky. As well as medieval icons, asian miniatures and japanese drawing (and woodcuts).

When it comes to comics, I have spent -and still do- many hours in comic shops searching for the comic that really appeals to me. Around 2008 the comic shop owner told me that what I was always looking for (comics as nonfigurative as possible) didn't really exist, so we came to the conclusion that I should start drawing it myself. I think it must be the same in various countries, that abstract comics are very rare in comic shops.

Now I am learning from comic artists like Frank Miller, Sam Keith, Joost Swarte, Moebius and others about framing, structure, sequences, page layout etc.

It is a real adventure working in this field of abstract comics and discovering more and more artists working in the same area.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

We belong to the future!

New review at The Walrus, "Canada's Best Magazine."

The review begins: "Imagine a book publisher had released a retrospective on “The Graphic Novel” in 1976, or that a cinema hosted a look back at France’s nouvelle vague in 1957, or that a gallery exhibit somewhere spotlighted American Abstract Expressionism in, say, 1946. The experience would have been not unlike reading Abstract Comics: The Anthology today." I'm not sure the reviewer means this as 100% a compliment (actually, it's clear he doesn't--not 100%, that is), but I certainly choose to take it as one... Are you kidding? I would have loved to do a survey of Abstract Expressionism in 1946!