Today on the site, Rob Clough reviews The Black Hood, an anthology of comics dealing with depression and related issues.
The Black Hood: An Anthology of Depression and Anxiety is a frequently brutal but ultimately illuminating take on mental illness, something experienced by a number of artists. Editors Josh Bayer (who published the book) and Mike Freiheit (who designed it) did a remarkable job of finding a number of veteran cartoonists and younger talent willing to spill a lot of ink in their personal depictions of mental illness. From E.A. Bethea’s almost entirely textual approach to Haleigh Buck’s dense, inky and naturalistic account of a panic attack, there’s a wide variety of styles to be found in the book. However, they are all raw, honest, and vulnerable in how they present themselves. As I have often found in confessional stories about difficult topics, one can sometimes sense an almost palpable sense of relief on the page as the artists have finally told their stories.
—Françoise Mouly and Art Spiegelman share a small selection of the work of one of America’s greatest political cartoonists, Art Young.
Political cartoons usually have the shelf life of yogurt, yet many of Art Young’s drawings from the early twentieth century remain fresh and hilariously witty—they seem to have been hatched just this morning. Young, one of the core editors and artists of The Masses, a socialist bohemian publication, didn’t get lost in the trivia of daily news; he kept his eyes on the big drama of the ninety-nine per cent versus the one per cent. A jovial man who even had empathy for his enemies, Young had a winning sense of humor as well as a strong sense of social justice—some of his funniest drawings are about Hell. During the First World War, when Young was tried for treason alongside John Reed and Max Eastman, his colleagues at The Masses, the prosecuting attorney couldn’t help stating, in his otherwise excoriating summation, that “everybody loves Art Young.”
—Sarah Horrocks writes about the Italian insanity that is RanXerox.
I don’t think it would surprise anyone who has ever read RanXerox to hear it described as grotesque. The artists Tanino Liberatore and Stefano Tamburini, in the spirit of the times, created a world of murderous mutant sex junkies and set them loose upon a futuristic Rome and New York. The stories focus on the intersections of art, exploitation, violence, and degradation. They are libertine in every sense of the word. Murderous robot mutant Ranx teams up with his prepubescent looking love interest Lubna to maraud across two cities.
—For The Atlantic, Jonathan Guyer writes about recent events in the Middle East as depicted by local cartoonists.
Across the inlet, Saudi cartoonists known for their inventive gags and veiled criticisms of authority have taken clear sides. Take Abdullah Jaber, who draws for the newspaper Mecca and has faced censorship in the past. Recently, Jaber has depicted Qatar as pugnacious, deceptive, and back-stabbing. In one of his several anti-Doha drawings, a blonde man wearing a shirt with Al-Jazeera’s logo and holding a saw cuts the Qatari peninsula off from the Gulf region; adjacent to him, another man wearing the distinct cap and gray, fuzzy beard of the Muslim Brotherhood sits on Qatar, paddling off into the Gulf, suggesting that the Qatari state is merely doing the Islamist party’s bidding. Saudi cartoonist Khaled Ahmed went even further with a drawing of a Qatari sheikh flinging bills at a belly-dancing terrorist who dons a black mask and a suicide vest. Such bellicose cartoons replicate the rhetoric of Saudi officials.
—Zainab Akhtar is raising funds for the second issue of her comics & criticism anthology, Critical Chips.