On the One Hand: The Art and Graphic Stories of R.O. Blechman / On the Other Hand: The Writings of R.O. Blechman Published and Unpublished

R.O. Blechman. Fantagraphics, $45 trade paper (488p) ISBN 978-1-68396-434-6
Illustrator, cartoonist, and animator Blechman (The Juggler of Our Lady) gets the coffee-table book treatment with this witty and comprehensive double-sided volume collecting both his cartoons (on “one hand,” or side of the book) and essays (found on the other side, flipped). His energetic and loose line informs his trenchant satirical comics, such as reimagining Shakespeare’s career or Goethe trying to chase down his youth. Blechman’s career doing illustrations for advertising no doubt informed his parody of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, wherein Kafka himself wakes up one morning turned into a cartoon and only earns respect because an insurance logo walked into the strip. His retelling of “The Pied Piper of Hamlin” is a masterpiece of minimalist drawing and a satire of conspicuous consumption. The collection also reproduces his colorful, scratchy, and witty gag covers for Story magazine. The flip side pulls together essays and interviews with such artists as Saul Steinberg and David Levine, in which Blechman proves just as nimble and playful in prose as in cartooning. The final essay, “I’m Not Finished,” a meditation on aging, is also an act of defiance against the concept of retiring as an artist. This well-designed work is both long deserved and a spectacular showcase for Blechman’s storied career. (Dec.)
Reviewed on : 11/12/2021
Release date: 12/07/2021
Genre: Comics
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