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The MRI of Love

Today, Kim Jooha returns with an article following up on her recent essay on what she calls the French Abstract Formalist comics movement, in which she focuses more closely on one of the associated artists, Sammy Stein.

Adieu is a zine made of sheets of wood. The cover shows a hand writing on a sheet of paper. There is a wooden shed. Inside, there is a sheet of paper with the word ‘adieu’ written on it, lying on a wooden table. Entering the basement cave through the wooden floor, we see a hand scratching the wall with a rock and the word ‘Adieu’ on the wall. Going down to another basement of the wooden structure, we see a hand with fire. In the end is the word ‘adieu,’ written on the wood, the zine itself.

We can read this as signifying the immortality of the material or nature (wood), contrasted to the mortality (‘adieu’ means goodbye) of the artifacts (the wooden structure). Humans keep producing the message again and again (‘adieu’ appears several times in different places). The cyclical nature of Adieu emphasizes this continuous struggle. The last page (the back cover) only shows the word ‘adieu,’ and it recalls the image of writing hands on the first page (the cover). Some of these messages persist, as we have the zine in our hands, in the same way that we appreciate and study the remains, ruins, and artifacts from the past in the museum. Stein’s oeuvre explores creating and studying art as constant human endeavor against the linear passage of time: the former for the present and the future, and the latter for the past.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Emily Lauer reports from the current Roz Chast exhibition.

The exhibit is designed to be fun. Rather than offering a comprehensive linear trajectory of Chast’s work to date, it is arranged by theme in one large room, subdivided, but offering multiple pathways through the material on display. Visitors are invited to wander, due not only to the arrangement of the material, but also because of the scarcity of wall text. What labels there are do not generally attempt to explain or guide, but rather simply offer titles, years, and materials. This is an exhibit designed to allow appreciation of Chast’s work, rather than an exhibit designed to teach visitors about Chast.

—BK Munn remembers Canadian cartoonist Murray Karn.

The 16-year old Karn parlayed this skill into a job with Cy Bell’s Bell Features comic book company in 1941, after answering a classified newspaper ad.

Bell Features was one of a small group of companies that sprang up to take advantage of the temporary ban on imports of “non-essential” goods from the U.S. during World War II as part of the War Exchange Conservation Act (WECA), and soon found themselves overwhelmed with the demand for homegrown versions of the superheroes and funny animals popular south of the border. Karn was assigned to illustrate the “Thunderfist” feature for Bell’s Active Comics title. The first issue of the comic debuted in February, 1942, and Karn would would draw twelve issues worth of the character’s stories for Active.

Created by writer E.T. Legault, Thunderfist was one of the first Canadian supermen to see print.

—RIP Andrei Bitov.


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