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If It Ain't Got That Swing

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It’s an all out fun fest this time around with cannibals in space, fumetto comics from Holland and the ever lovable antics of Victor and Vishnu. 

Murphy’s Miserable Space Adventures

Being Charlotte Dumottier’s illustrative graduating project in 2011 at the Brussels art school Sint Lukas, this wordless gag book is a testament to her talents as a developing artist. Done in a Dave Cooper (whatever happened to him anyway?) meets John Kricfalusi style, it concerns the ongoing adventures of Murphy, an astronaut doomed to die at every end of the gag. This may sound repetitive but Dumortier is certainly inventive in the many deaths of Murphy the lovely loser cosmonaut. From being a gourmet special for aliens to space sluts to carnivorous planets to conscious toxic gas beings, Murhpy never seems to catch a break. 

Dumortier employs a lot of different illustrative media throughout the book but it is always still unmistakably her own style. She experiments with pencils, brushes, paint styles and the rythm of her gags differ from page to page with adjusted panel framing. In between gags to break up the high pace of laughs, she inserts full page illustrations related to previous jokes or either featuring it’s own pun. Done in a variety of art styles, it’s quite a tour de force for such a young creator. Funny and extremely pretty to look at. Check out her Tumblr and give it a shot.

Murphy’s Miserable Space Adventures by Charlotte Dumortier is published by Oogachtend. It is a full colour OGN counting 96 pages. It retails for €12. 

Ype + Willem

Hollands longest running photo comic bears a special spotlight because well … it’s fumetto done right! Creator Ype Driessens always manages to stage the scenes spot on with a good eye for rythm and scene setting. The main drawback of photo comics, it’s stiff posing and static feel is turned into Ype + Willem’s main strength: perfect pacing with a cynical sense of humour. 

It’s an autobiographical look at Ype and Willem’s relationship with all its ups and downs. Its voyeuristic approach really lets you embrace the ‘characters’ and - for me anyway - the gags work best when there’s an element of recognition, expertly blown out of proportion by the neurotic Ype. There’s also a bunch of repetitive gags (like how many bars of WiFi you can reach when on holiday) that become more hilarious as the book progresses. 

The photo art is done in a clean and professional manner with good photoshopping where necessary (being a graphic designer, trust me, the things I’ve seen in amateur Fumetto’s can break your little designer heart in two) and intentionally crappy where the gag demands it. They have a daily right here where you can check out the visuals and read the gags if you know Dutch.

Ype + Willem is published in Dutch by Strip2000. It is a full colour tpb retailing for €9,95. Preview at the link.

Victor & Vishnu

Also from Dutch publisher Strip 2000 is part two of the adventures of the cuddly toy duo Victor & Vishnu though they are a lot less cuddly once they open their filthy little toy mouths.  Victor is a bear (I think) with glasses and Vishny is half bird, half ape. Created by Jeroen Funke, it is a satirical look on whatever fascinates its creator whenever he’s working on a comic. It is drawn in a cartoonish underground style but Funke keeps the visuals rolling on by employing different drawing techniques for every story. My favourite artwise is the last in the album where Funke stretches out one gag over several pages but done in the best Larry Marder (Beanworld) meets Theo Ellsworth (Capacity) he can manage. I can see this being right at home at Top Shelf actually. Funke has a unique voice, reflected in his dialogue and sense of rythm. Not all stories hit the right buttons but at least there’s always an idea or germination of a philosophy in there; from a black and white with washouts detective story to a ghost story to a satirical fairy tale to a numeration about creativity.

The album presentation actually does it a displeasure though. Presented as a regular soft cover euro comic, Victor & Vishnu would benefit from having a more special format, smaller and more compact maybe? Different paper stock? Maybe Funke needs to rethink this approach because to me, it diminishes the product. Looking like a kids product, adults will tend to stay away from it while it is actually a comic that can be read from ages 14 and up until your brains just can’t process those crazy funny books any more. Some great stuff here. Check him out online at the art collective Lamelos (though you need nerves of steel to surf through the Flash site).

Victor & Vishnu is published by Strip2000. It is a large album size book in full colour and retails for €8,95. Preview at the link.

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