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Saturday, October 14th, 2006
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Ghost Prawn: Sean Tejaratchi

A review by Georgie Lewis

Sean Tejaratchi's zine Craphound, first made an appearance in 1994 with a modest print-run of 500. Each of the six subsequent volumes emerged with little fanfare and could be purchased only at the odd independent bookstore or by mailing Sean a personal check. Despite the limited availability of Craphound, Tejaratachi can count among his fans Simpsons creator Matt Groening and members of the writing staff of The Onion.

Craphound is a compendium of vintage images from advertisements mainly from the forties to sixties, clipped ephemera and illustration, wittily and elegantly arrayed onto the page (commonly known as clip art, except that in abiding by copyright law Tejaratchi can't actually call it such). Each volume is a labor of love, painstakingly compiled and designed. In fact, every page is a testament to Tejaratchi's unique, striking aesthetic, as well as his cheeky wit. As Tejaratchi is described on ZineWiki.com, "He is noted for his obsessiveness and absurd sense of humor."

The newest issue of Craphound is an updated version of Craphound 6: Death, Telephones and Scissors, which was originally published in 1997. Along with every conceivable line drawing of a pair of scissors, a skull, a coffin, or a telephone, there are all sorts of fun, poignant, ironic, and just plain fascinating illustrations of these objects in context. In one, a barber trims a woman's hair while the caption says "Women groom their hair to please men." One delightful conscription poster shows a grave marked "Killed on the last day of the war," and then asks, "Do YOU want to be the last to die?" One of my favorites is the ancient (I hope!) FBI scratch sheet for the telephone recipient of a bomb threat; after querying where the bomb is, what does it look like, what will set it off and what kind of bomb is it, the caller is asked to also provide an address and finally a name. There is also a very stern chap who really does not like Norwegians.

Tejaratchi's passion for finding and assembling all these beautiful hallmarks of a bygone era -- an era when fine artists and cartoonists were on staff to illustrate advertisements -- is apparent in the breadth of this collection. Yet without his dazzling graphic design skills and hilarious, pointed commentary, this would simply be a bit of a giggle at a more nave time. Instead, Craphound 6, from its silky, stunning cover art to its final index of crazy television programs, is a modest work from a uniquely talented artist.

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