Legendary comic book artist Art Spiegelman has been on the move since May 2012 in a world-touring retrospective that began in Angoulême when he was awarded the Grand Prix for lifetime achievement in illustration – a title that’s richly deserved. Co-Mix: A Retrospective arrives at The Jewish Museum this November and to mark the event Drawn & Quarterly are publishing a beauty of a book that brings together a mind-bogglingly diverse range of work from each stage of Art’s 60-year career.
To say it’s an impressive read barely touches the surface of the brilliance on display. Most famed for Maus – a work of incredible emotional power that almost single-handedly changed the perception of the comic book from simple, lighthearted entertainment to a medium of heavyweight conceptual punch – Art is less known for his work in underground comics in the 1960s and 1970s where he dabbled in the kind of provocative, sexually motivated material we’re used to seeing in the pages of Robert Crumb. Art’s been there through it all, varying his subject and style from sketchy scrawls of palpable eroticism, painterly renderings of oppressed mice, to playing fast and loose with Charles Schultz and immaculately inked drawings that could have been created by the mechanical hand of Chris Ware (though it’s clear who inspired who).
What’s refreshing about Co-Mix is the level to which it demonstrates Art’s diversity. While many retrospective publications like to show off just the one creative direction, this revels in the frenetic intellectual talent that produced the graphic novel’s finest example, his borrowing of other artist’s stylistic traits and turning them into something altogether more powerful. Even the great Art Spiegelman had influences.
The book’s not out for another couple of weeks but we wanted to give you time to prepare your wallets and get your pre-orders in.