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Jack Cole & Plastic Man: Forms Stretched to Their Limitsby Art Spiegelman
In 1941, Jack Cole, formerly an illustrator and later a cartoonist for Playboy, introduced the world to Plastic Man, a superhero who, due to an unfortunate accident with a horrible acid, developed the incredible ability to transform himself into any shape. The plots were simple, Good Guy vs. Bad Guy, but along the way Cole managed to plumb the depths of his otherwise conservative brain to produce some of the most bizarre, surreal visions the forties had ever seen. Even today, many of the his concepts and imagery will drop your jaw, begging the question, "What in the hell was this guy thinking?" Jack Cole and Plastic Man is edited by another comic genius, Art Spiegelman, and is lovingly designed by Chip Kidd whose Batman Collected ranks among the most beautiful books ever produced.
"It's difficult to decide which aspect of Jack Cole and Plastic Man is more compelling: Spiegelman?s fine essay, Kidd's lavish design, or the subjects themselves. Much like the Plastic Man stories, the book demands — and richly rewards — revisiting." Christopher Bolton, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)
Synopses & Reviews
For years Jack Cole labored dutifully as a cartoonist, comic book illustrator, and Playboy's premier artist. He was, on the outside, a mild-mannered and easygoing guy. But one look at his most famous creation the manic, surreal Plastic Man and there is no question that much more lurked in the mind of this tragic artist than anyone suspected. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and cartoonist Art Spiegelman (Maus: A Survivor's Tale) and renowned graphic designer Chip Kidd pay homage to Plastic Man and his creator, Jack Cole. With exuberant energy, extraordinary flexibility, and bizarre plot twists, Jack Cole stretched Plastic Man beyond the traditional limits of the comic book form.
"The life of Jack Cole...is as entertaining as his comic-book stories....Spiegelman's essay briskly maps his life and his career....This is an excellent memorial to an innovative American cartoonist." Publishers Weekly
"[A]n unalloyed joy, a magic act of words and pictures..." Comic Book Artist
"Spiegelman and Kidd have assembled an attractive and innovative package that uses multiple paper stocks to communicate the gloss of Cole's magazine illustrations....Jack Cole And Plastic Man is designed to be held, smelled, and felt as much as read." Noel Murray, The Onion AV Club
"Spiegelman is an ardent proselytizer for comics-as-art, and is at his best explaining why Cole's manic visuals succeed without going completely over the edge....In the book's last chapter, you can feel Spiegelman's sympathy, but also his frustration, with Cole's mysterious 1958 suicide." R.C. Baker, The Village Voice
Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and illustrator Art Spiegelman joins forces with designer Chip Kidd to pay homage to the comic book hero Plastic Man and his creator, Jack Cole. Plastic Man is more than just a putty face with his bad-boy past, he literally embodies the comic book form: the exuberant energy, flexibility, boyishness, and subtle hints of sexuality. And as cartoonists "become" each character they create, it can be said that Jack Cole himself resembles Plastic Man. Cole revealed the true magnitude and intensity of his imagination and inner thoughts as Plastic Man slithered from panel to panel shifting forms and dashing from male to female, or freely morphing from a stiff upright figure to a being as soft as a Dali clock. With a compelling history, a V-necked red rubber leotard, a black-and-yellow striped belt, and very cool tinted goggles, Plastic Man is truly a cult classic, and this art-packed book will delight any fan.
About the Author
Art Spiegelman is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Maus and Maus II. His work has been published in more than sixteen languages and has appeared in The New York Times, Village Voice, and Playboy, among others. He has been a contributing editor and cover artist for The New Yorker since 1992 and lives in Manhattan.
Chip Kidd has designed book jackets for Alfred A. Knopf for over a decade. His work has been featured in Vanity Fair, Print, Entertainment Weekly, The New Republic, Time, the New York Times, Graphis, New York, and ID magazine. He lives in New York City.
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