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Arf Museum Paperback – July 17, 2006
"Children of Blood and Bone"
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From Publishers Weekly
Having curated actual museum shows, cartoonist/designer Yoe turns to the print medium to exhibit little known cartoon art. Appropriately, the book opens with cartoons about fine art museums by Charles Addams, Chester Gould, Cliff Sterrett and others. Some of these works, like Frank King's, demonstrate links between cartooning and "high" art. Others, including an essay by Rube Goldberg, voice a populist disdain for modern art and art critics. In the wake of the King Kong remake, Yoe presents works pairing apes and women, running a gamut from horror to simple titillation, such as photos of Bettie Page with guys in literal monkey suits. A segment on tattooing includes an EC-style horror tale written, surprisingly, by Stan Lee. In the book's most extraordinary works, 19th-century cartoonist Charles Bennett transforms animals into humans through a succession of images that Yoe insightfully compares to CGI "morphing" effects. Other highlights are remarkable, previously unpublished color paintings by Richard Outcault of the Yellow Kid, American comics' first iconic character. The book concludes with an examination of Picasso's interest in the comics. Lavishly illustrated, this survey of the long history of pop art entertains with a succession of bold, unexpected images. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Yoe continues the exploration of "the unholy marriage of art and comics" that began in Modern Arf (2005). Among the cartoon artifacts he showcases here are 10 hitherto--unpublished early 1900s paintings of the Yellow Kid by newspaper-strip-pioneer Richard Felton Outcault, a selection of hell-themed pieces by socialist cartoonist Art Young, vintage girlie cartoons by forgotten magazine cartoonist Reamer Heller, ape-themed cartoons featuring King Kong and other simians, and wacky drawings of modernist sculpture as well as a snide assessment of modern art by Rube Goldberg. In the 22 pages preceding the title page, museumgoers Nancy and Sluggo, Gasoline Alley's Skeezix, Barney Google, and other comic-strip characters grapple with high culture. A selection of sequential drawings--comic strips, essentially--by Picasso leads into examples of cartoonists including Art Spiegelman lampooning cubism. The touring museum exhibition Masters of American Comics has recently drawn large crowds to see original art by Charles^B Schulz, R. Crumb, and other cartoonists, so consider Yoe's juxtapositioning of high and low another manifestation of the cultural zeitgeist. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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The problem is not in the printing quality; it's good. That should be worth at least a star. However, be warned - the colors you see in preview pages on the web are more intense than those in the printed book.
The excellent printing job, though, is much like an attempt to put a proverbial shine on a sneaker.
Once I opened the book, the problems began.
Let me preface what I'm about to write by stating that most of these cartoons were drawn during a time of general unenlightenment about women as anything other than sex objects. For example, on the inside front cover, we see a cartoon, a cartoon of a painting of a nude woman chastising a man for presumably leering at her. We see Bettie Page with a gorilla. We see a lot of sloppily drawn cartoons of nude women. One is by Picasso (the woman is shown farting). Are you chuckling yet? Many pages devoted to the "Yellow Kid" aren't likely to make this more fun, either.
Also, there are too many Cubist/Abstract Expressionist jokes all with the predictable punch line; it's obvious the illustrators were pandering to the general public's confusion and casual dismissing of modern art. The two-pager about Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein ripping off panel cartoonists is juvenile.
Finally, the point size of the body text is too small (for me, anyway) to read. I don't like having to squint b/c a layout artist has decided to be overly creative with the font.
I gave this 2 stars because there's a story called "Modern Art," written by Stan Lee, and it's fairly amusing. I'd rather have had more of the "strip"-type variety of comic in this book.
The Stan Lee story aside, and maybe a few other tidbits, I couldn't send this one back fast enough.
Two overall themes are present in this volume, tattoos and cubism. Cartoons about tattoos have been around a long time and they're even more relevant today. I guess there's nothing new under the sun. And it's fun to see how cartoonists of the time reacted to Picasso's revolutionary art, with plenty of gags involving both eyes on the same side of the nose. Then there's a whole section on Picasso, himself a cartoonist of no small ability, whose sketch of a nude woman passing gas is among his lesser-known works.
It's quite a feat to assemble 120 pages of great comic art I mostly haven't seen before. In fact, the only two pieces I know I've seen are the two I supplied myself. (Full disclosure: After reading Modern Arf I sent a fan letter to Craig Yoe and he invited me to submit a couple of pieces from my collection for inclusion in this volume. I'm proud to be part of it.)
I should also mention that this is a beautifully printed book, with tasteful spot-varnish on a nifty matte-finish cover stock. A collectible piece for a long-time collector like me. Highly recommended.