cover image New Engineering

New Engineering

, . . PictureBox Inc., $19.95 (232pp) ISBN 978-0-9789722-5-7

There is no other cartoonist like Yokoyama. The two dozen brief, deeply disquieting pieces collected here look like stories, but on examination, they're more like complicated, stylized diagrams of social, technical and ecological systems, dominated by Yokoyama's fascination with textures, costuming, repetition, landscaping and—above all—sound effects. “Engineering 3,” for instance, shows a mountain being built out of boulders, then covered with Astroturf, fake trees and hand-drawn simulations of more rocks. (The Japanese sound effects that appear everywhere in the book are translated at the bottom of each page, which is how Anglophone readers know that “shuru shuru ,” for instance, is the “high pitched sound of boulders being dropped from plane.”) Occasionally, blank-faced figures appear on a panel to run around and scream—a couple of pieces, like the opening “Book,” even look like fight scenes—but Yokoyama disregards plot and character altogether in favor of atmosphere and technical details, which he draws with the kind of gusto and dramatic foreshortening other artists reserve for actual human interaction. Some of these pieces are nearly incomprehensible, as the author admits in his explanatory endnotes; he thinks of his work as “serialized paintings,” extending in time from single images. Yet everything is delightful on the level of pure, mad design. (Nov.)