The Party

Tomi Ungerer. Fantagraphics, $19.99 trade paper (136p) ISBN 978-1-68396-372-1
Despite the specificity of the period setting, the purity of the fury powering this acid-etched graphic novel from Ungerer (The Underground Sketchbook) feels both timeless and of the moment. A 1966 countercultural classic now in long-overdue rerelease recounts a “most, most wonderful party” given by Mrs. Julia Van Flooze in East Hampton that is ostensibly to celebrate the return of a well-connected senator from “a fact finding trip in the Orient.” There, a parade of society swells—patrons of the arts, Boston Brahmins, business tycoons, the odd European royal—dances and drinks the night away. But the contrast of the purposefully flat text with sparse and slashing black pen produces something like a society column of the damned. Illustrating the ugliness of the upper class with brutal effect, Ungerer twists the crowd into ever more bestial contortions as the night goes on. The effect is nightmarish, like Ralph Steadman on a bender: here a man with rats’ tails hanging out of his eye sockets and swiss cheese for a tongue, there a woman feeding her dinner to a gaping mouth in her stomach. This antiestablishment satirical masterpiece practically vibrates with class war rage and will resonate with similarly inclined contemporary readers. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 09/24/2020
Release date: 11/10/2020
Genre: Comics
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