The Man Who Grew His Beard

Olivier Schrauwen. Fantagraphics, $19.99 ISBN )978-1-60699-446-7
This collection of stories is a wonderful example of how an animator’s eye, artist’s hand, and storyteller’s vision can combine in a series of stylistic experiments that harken to a previous age of comics, but speak to the contemporary world we live in. In this sequence of graphic tales, Schrauwen looks closely at the relationship between our external and internal realities, and shows us how human imagination is only limited by the constraints that our own failings and frailties place upon it. In stories like “Outside/Inside” and “The Imaginist,” this theme is developed with wonderful poignancy and delightful cynicism. What’s impressive is the ease with which Schrauwen moves among various styles, affording him an extraordinarily wide range of visual tools (e.g., exaggeration and caricature, emotive color schemes, line and shading techniques) that reveal the outer and inner lives of his characters, while his storytelling gives us as much information about his characters from how they don’t react in a given situation as from how they do. Sometimes looking like a throwback to vintage comics and sometimes like a clever homage to the Kama Sutra, this collection is,at all times, the work of a master storyteller. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/17/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
Genre: Comics
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