Kramer's Ergot #7

Sammy Harkham, Editor Buenaventura $125 (96p) ISBN 978-0-9800039-5-6

There's a sort of finality about this massive, ambitious art object of an anthology, produced with the finest paper stock and printing available. Editor Harkham has assembled the best-known names in art comics to use the huge page size—16"×21", larger than a newspaper page—as a blank canvas for experiments in storytelling. The result is a delirious, fantastic newspaper supplement as imagined through the lens of the last 20 years of comics experimentation and formalism. Although a few artists like Mat Brinkman and Helge Reumann use the giant page size as the setting for abstract art, many—Seth, Josh Simmons and Gabrielle Bell—cram intense yet minimalist narratives into a parade of tiny panels. The overall effect is overwhelming, but some stories stand out—Shari Boyle's gorgeous elephant fantasy, Tom Gauld's nearly abstract retelling of the Noah myth, Dan Clowes's one-page hard-boiled tragedy, Jaime Hernandez's compact triolet about cosmic unjustness and Matthew Thurber's lyrical nonsense about Brian Eno and a parrot. While the price tag is high, and some stories lack real narrative punch, this anthology is a high-water mark of intelligence and artistry, and will reward many rereadings by those who can find the shelf space to house it properly. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 12/15/2008
Release date: 11/01/2008
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