Overview

Blurred Vision Anthology Volume 4

Review

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Blurred Vision Anthology Volume 4

Credits

  • Words: Various
  • Art: Various
  • Inks: Various
  • Colors: N/A
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: Blurred Books
  • Price: $15.95
  • Release Date: Jul 23, 2008

Blurred Vision is one handsomely packaged book, with a meticulously rendered, eye-catching, fully-painted portrait cover by Karl Stevens.  Then, inside, are collected twenty-four carefully chosen stories by twenty-four talented and fresh new faces within the U.S., European, and Asiatic art scenes.  That said, this anthology is a collection of, in its own words, “Narrative Art”, and that’s an honest description of what’s to be found inside.  For anyone familiar with Max Ernst’s infamous collage collection Une Semaine de Bonté, arguably the first graphic novel ever made, in which Ernst took a slew of images published in other popular and pulp periodicals and then strung them together into a loose “narrative” (usually thematic rather than plot based), you’ll have a good grasp on the contents of Blurred.

Some of the stories fall into the modern-day comic book aesthetic, most notably a story titled “Antoinette” by Israeli-born Koren Shadmi, in which a man picks up a beheaded chick in a bar (she carries her severed, animated and fully-conscious head tucked under one arm) and proceeds to have a one-night stand with her.  Uncomfortable but true-blue hilarity ensues; the story is laugh out loud, and the characters utterly charming.  Shadmi’s art carries a strong small press influence, hints of Nabiel Kanan (Exit), Jaime Hernandez, and Daniel Clowes apparent.  There’s a one-page story by M.L. Teague that covers a biographical moment in the life of famed scientist Stephen Hawking, and then an intricate and indelibly touching story, “The Others”, by Matt Madden, husband to the astounding Jessica Abel.  But beyond these, the work in BV tends to veer toward the experimental and/or (depending on your point of view) the more expressionistic and stream-of-consciousness wildness of underground comix.

“Pollution” by Woojung Ahn is perhaps the most remarkable of these, and the editors seemed to think it was hot stuff, too, because they put it smack at the beginning to open the book.  In single-page portraits, one after the other, Ahn manages to convey a stylized and haunting look at pollution that’s nearly ground-floor animalistic.  There’re two longer pieces—“Bam Bam and the Barbarians” and “Captain Eel-Begone”—which both suffer a complete lack of coherency in the sense of traditional storytelling expectations, even though they clock in at the longest page counts and each follow a heroic-like protagonist and a (supposed) self-contained adventure, which is a shame.  Especially as “Bam Bam” is meant to indeed be the Bam Bam of The Flintstones, in the modern day and as a grown punk problem-child youth.  “A Dog and His Elephant”, by Ethan Persoff, is the one example of a story that, for all its plot-less qualities, is imminently readable with its Rex Libris-like digital art and hysterical story beats.

Ultimately, Blurred Vision shines the brightest and attacks the reader the hardest (in a good way) when it displays the truly portrait-like pages tethered by silent or poetic narratives, “Shadowhouse” by Stem, “Expedition to the Interior” by Andrei Molotiu, which is the very first abstract art comic ever made, I think, by which I don’t mean vaguely abstract in theme  but literally drawn with panels containing nothing but authentic Abstract Expressionism brushstrokes.  Additionally there’s a “Captain Adam” yarn by Kevin Mutch, stringing together Golden Age comic panels in the very way Ernst once did with older pop illustrations, and then an absolutely gorgeous final tale, “Swimmer”, by Henrik Rehr (Tribeca Sunset).

All in all, Blurred Vision is for the adventurous comic reader only.  It isn’t breezy entertainment, or all ages fare; in isn’t whimical in the Cartoon Network sense and it doesn’t stick to any one style or sensibility.  It’s literally a showcase of art, some of it only loosely defined as “narrative”, although it is.  This is an expansive and mind-stretching collection of works that will challenge and occasionally entertain, though throughout you’ll find work likely never to be come across in any more accessible and properly presentational way.  This one’s for the connoisseurs, or those who want to begin their long journey toward connoisseurship.  It’s big and thick and it’s packed with new art narrative styles.  Recommended, if you aren’t easily diverted or put off.

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To order your copy of Blurred Vision Volume 4 (or 1, 2, and 3 even!) go to: http://www.podgallery.com/html/blurredbookspages/bv4preview.html

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