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Is That All There Is?by Joost Swarte
Synopses & Reviews
By appropriating and subverting Tintin creator Hergé’s classic “clear line” style, Joost Swarte revitalized European alternative comics in the 1970s with a series of satirical, musically elegant, supremely beautifully drawn short stories — often featuring his innocent, magnificently-quiffed Jopo de Pojo, or his orotund scientist character, Anton Makassar.
Under Swarte’s own exacting supervision, Is That All There Is? will collect virtually all of his alternative comics work from 1972 to date, including the RAW magazine stories that brought him fame among American comics aficionados in the 1980s. Especially great pains will be taken to match Swarte’s superb coloring, which includes stories executed in watercolor, comics printed in retro duotones, fiendishly clever use of Zip-a-Tone screens, and much more. (There’s even a story about how to color comics art using those screens, with Makassar as the teacher.)
Other noteworthy stories include Swarte’s take on an episode from Hergé’s early days, a Fats Domino story, a tribute to the legendary “Upside-Downs” strip, and a story titled simply “Modern Art.”
"Like many of the underground comics artists of the 1970s and '80s, Swarte worked at a right angle to mainstream style by imitating elements of it so closely that his every frame became an act of querulous subversion. This long-time-coming compilation of Swarte's painstaking work could be taken at first glance for a long-lost volume of HergÃ©, with his clean lines, tightly packed frames, animallike characters, and the fast-paced mix of bumptious action and slapstick comedy. But the stories themselves are a different matter, playing in an altogether more adult arena, as befitting stories that once delighted readers of Raw. However, in between the graphic sex, heroin syringes, exploding craniums, and tongue-in-cheek racial stereotypes (still cringe-worthy, even with the implicit critique), Swarte creates art of his own. In addition to undermining the colonialist attitudes of HergÃ© and classic Disney cartoons with his R. Crumb-ish verve, Swarte also presents a clutch of perfectly packaged riffs on cartoon art. Having a Chris Ware introduction makes sense, given Swarte's excruciating eye for architectural detail, and could help introduce Swarte to a larger audience, but the book may not need it — the art doesn't speak for itself, it shouts." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A career-spanning collection from the heir to Hergé.
About the Author
Joost Swarte lives in the Netherlands and online at joostswarte.com.
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