The Venice Chronicles

Enrico Casarosa, Author . AdHouse $19.95 (144p) ISBN 978-0-9818455-0-0

An animation storyboard artist, Casarosa (also known for his contributions to the Flight anthologies) has popularized the “Sketchcrawl”—basically wandering around and sketching everything in sight, which is ostensibly the concept behind his first book. If Casarosa had documented his 2006 trip to Venice in the series of finely observed, watercolor-hued pen-and-ink sketches that form this book's core and left it at that, it might have been very different—and better. Instead, it's a scattered, meandering journal whose focus on its own public presentation sinks it. Casarosa devotes pages on end to tedious, dashed-off cartoons about his own creative frustrations (“What's the message I am trying to convey with this comic?” he asks himself), his relationship with his girlfriend (he loves her) and the way the book was assembled (piecemeal). When he actually draws Venetian scenery from life or from memory, or focuses on details like a Bellini painting in a museum or a diagram of his favorite aperitif, it's lovely: the drawings are loose but convincing, and the blotchy imprecision of his coloring suits them nicely. But the many scenes of Casarosa simply drawing comics—or fretting about not drawing comics—occupy too much of the book. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 12/08/2008
Release date: 00/00/0000
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