Lines and Color

Today Annie Mok reviews Compass South.

Compass South is a YA adventure graphic novel, a genre I’m happy to see revived in comics. While the story shows its influences to a distracting degree (Tintin, et al), it’s an entertaining, suspenseful tale, albeit with a bit of a slow start. Author-illustrator Hope Larson writes, coming off the heels of her well-received comics adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, and the star cartoonist and illustrator Rebecca Mock draws (credited with the possibly demeaning billing of “Illustrations by”). It follows Dickensian adolescent twins Alex (disguising himself as “Samuel”) and Cleopatra (becoming Patrick, a boy), who “fink” on a pirate, and then disguise themselves as a rich man’s lost twins to try to get some money. The gender play is handled subtly, with the story suggesting that Patrick is more comfortable presenting as a boy.


This looks like a good show in Basel, Switzerland, of Aline and Robert Crumb's collaborative work.  I think it's probably hard for people in retrospect to appreciate how radical a cartoonist Aline Kominsky was when she began. If you look at that work, and look at everything around it in comics, there's just no precedent. Rory Hayes was "crude" but nevertheless working within established EC genres in one way or another. Aline was just off on her own, channeling other modes of modern drawing into cartoon form. And that's just the form. The content was a whole other kind of break from convention. Amazing, amazing work.

Whatever it looks like (and I don't much care), I'm disappointed that George Lucas's proposed museum for narrative art didn't find a home in Chicago. It would have been a great resource for the city's cartooning community, given the substantial holdings of, well... no one really knows, but rumored major holdings of Herriman, Foster, Wyeth, Rockwell and lord knows what else. Lucas has been a major collector of comic art since the 1970s. I hope it lands somewhere! Here's a summary of the various battles/cock-ups along the way.

One Response to Lines and Color

  1. Herriman has gotta be near the top of the list of major American artists who are simply nowhere to be found in American museums (please tell me if I’m wrong so I can go to those museums!). I know it’s hard for museum curators to put people in their collection if a.) the work doesn’t sell for a lot of money or b.) they actually don’t even care about the work of the artist. And I suspect the later is true for Herriman…people outside of comics seem largely unaware of it.

    Guston is such a huge influence to young painters of the moment, and HE was influenced so deeply by Fisher and Herriman, and yet…………no one takes the chance to say ‘hey, maybe an exhibition of Guston’s comic influences might inspire another person towards their own Guston type innovations?” I’m technically uncomfortable with more people borrowing from early cartooning in a Guston way, but I’d take ANY situation that allowed for a major Herriman retrospective.

    I think a lot of people teach themselves about art by going to museums. I think so many people who would be incredibly receptive to Herriman never ever get to see his work, because it’s not in the venues that they go to to experience art. I don’t mind Braque but…I think I’m at my lifetime limit for seeing Braque paintings in person. Wouldn’t mind Herriman being switched out for Braque for the next 50 years or something.

    Maybe the upcoming Herriman biography will change things? His life story is so complex and relates to so much of American history AND current political debates. But I hope Herriman gets a Whitney retrospective based on his art alone.

    Sorry…this is a long way of saying that the Lucas museum thing brought up a lot of things I’ve been thinking about lately.

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