The Cross Hatch Dispatch – 6.8.11

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[Above, D&Q staff evidently spend A LOT of time discussing hottie cartoonists up in their office. Below, Cross Hatch staff spend an awful lot of time talking about how nice you all are. Really!]

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Beasts: Book 2 Curated by Jacob Covey

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beastsbook2It would have been a hard sell at nearly any other publisher, a coffee table art book devoted to the much maligned pseudo-science of cryptozoology—let alone a sequel to such a thing. And, had someone actually bit and jumped at the opportunity, the results would likely have been an unmitigated disaster.

In the loving hands of Fantagraphics, however, Beasts: Book 2 is a thing of beauty, from the fittingly classical packaging, presented with shades of Chris Ware and a metallic ink on the edges of the pages that unintentionally shed onto the hands of all who pick it up, to the impressive roster of artists—a sort of coming together of indie comic’s new and old guards, from Kim Deitch and Peter Bagge to Kazimir Strzepek and Jillian Tamaki.

It’s hard to say exactly who the target audience is with a book like Beasts, but surely there’s a fair-sized overlap between lovers of the paranormal and connoisseurs of fine alternative art. The bulk of the second Beasts is devoted to 96 plates. Each features a brief description of a fantastic creature from the world of cryptozoology, accompanied by a one or two page artistic representation of said animal. The beauty of the pieces is not only in the skill of the artists on display, but also the diversity of a stable that includes both cartoonists and artists from other worlds like children’s books, fine art, poster design, and skate graphics.

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The Portable Frank by Jim Woodring

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The Portable Frank
By Jim Woodring
Fantagraphics

Seeing Things, the title of Jim Woodring’s 2005 collection of charcoal drawings was intended as more than a simple descriptor of the artist’s surrealist mode of expression. For most of his life, Woodring has suffered from hallucinations, a fact that he’s discussed openly and often in interviews, over the years. For better or worse, the condition has, of course, played a rather prominent role in the artist’s work.

One of the most beneficial side effects is the remarkable sense of consistency with which Woodring has imbued his art. For all of its predominantly fantastic qualities, the world inhabited by his most beloved character, Frank, possesses a sense of internal reality rarely achieved by even the most stringently autobiographical works that the medium has to offer. It’s a sense of other-worldliness hinted at—but rarely, if ever, fully-realized by the psychedelic musings of underground comics’ early pioneers.

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