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    ELCAF Poster by Chris Ware

Illustration

Five of the best comics we found while at ELCAF 2014

Posted by James Cartwright,

Last weekend we spent an intermittently rainy Saturday traipsing up and down ELCAF’s rows of tables, laden with brightly coloured printed matter of all kinds. There were comics, zines, pots and prints, giant hardbacks printed by the thousand and tiny little editions of hand-made graphic novels, not to mention the talks by titans of the comics community like Jesse Moynihan, Seth and Chris Ware. For those of us who compulsively collect anything that pairs paper with ink it was an extremely satisfying day out so we thought we’d give you a quick (and limited) rundown of some of the great stuff on display.

The Insects

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    Michael DeForge: Ant Colony

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    Michael DeForge: Ant Colony

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    Michael DeForge: Ant Colony

Michael DeForge has been making comics about ants for ages. Something about their ruthless nature and fleeting lifespans seems to appeal to him enormously. In his hands those nondescript little insects become vehicles for serious comedy, perpetrating the most loathsome acts of violence with reckless abandon and then suffering the same in turn. In his first full-length graphic novel, Ant Colony, Michael explores the lives of numerous ants within the colony, each of them teetering on the brink of destruction at any moment from vicious spiders or careless centipedes. Sure it sounds pretty heavy, but it’s just really, really funny – and fantastically drawn too.
www.kingtrash.com

The Moon-Headed Man

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    Andrew Rae: Moonhead And The Music Machine

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    Andrew Rae: Moonhead And The Music Machine

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    Andrew Rae: Moonhead And The Music Machine

Joey Moonhead was a character that first cropped up in Andrew Rae’s contribution to Nobrow’s A Graphic Cosmogony, but now he’s got his own graphic novel. Moonhead And The Music Machine tells the rags-to-riches story of an outcast teenage boy with a moon for a head who finds acceptance from the cool kids at his school talent contest. But all is not as it seems…. Again this is a debut graphic novel from a man who’s been a prolific talent in illustration for a long time. God know’s how long it must have taken Andrew to draw everything with the precision he does; but it was undoubtedly worth the effort.
www.andrewrae.org.uk

The Best Pot Ever

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    William Edmonds: Face Pot

I’ve wanted one of Will Edmonds’ pots with faces for about two years. And so I bought one from him at ELCAF. Sure it’s not strictly a comic – in fact it has nothing to do with comics – but it’s a beautiful object all the same and makes your weekend coffee that much more exciting.
www.williamedmonds.co.uk

The Comic You Can’t Get in the UK

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    Adrian Tomine: Optic Nerve 13

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    Adrian Tomine: Optic Nerve 13

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    Adrian Tomine: Optic Nerve 13

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    Adrian Tomine: Optic Nerve 13

The great thing about events like ELCAF is that you get access to things that you can’t find at home. There are no UK distributors for Adrian Tomine’s fantastic serial Optic Nerve, so when the Drawn & Quarterly guys come and visit it’s always advisable to stock up on the rarities. Optic Nerve 13 contains three new, original stories; an autobiographical page, a complex relationship born from a self-help group and an elegiac ode to a journey home. As ever with Adrian Tomine it’s not light reading, but his sensitive storytelling shines through gently nudging you to empathise with his complex characters.
www.adrian-tomine.com

The Empty House

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    Antoine Cossé: NWAI

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    Antoine Cossé: NWAI

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    Antoine Cossé: NWAI

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    Antoine Cossé: NWAI

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    Antoine Cossé: NWAI

NWAI is a brand new comic by Antoine Cossé that was printed by Breakdown Press mere days before ELCAF took place, so the ink still smelled fresh. It tells the story of a jilted lover who takes out his anger for his ex on his beautiful Modernist home; filling the swimming pool with his piss, setting fire to the surrounding gardens and colouring in all the concrete walls. He also befriends a giant tiger, but that’s more to do with loneliness than rage. Antonine’s pacing is spot on in this story, and his subtle use of colour allows the protagonist’s memories to permeate the panels and add further depth to the story. Also for a comic that was apparently put together in a rush int’s an extremely accomplished achievement.
www.antoinecosse.tumblr.com

Jc

Posted by James Cartwright

James started out as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our two editors. He oversees Printed Pages magazine and content wise has a special interest in graphic design and illustration. He also runs our online shop Company of Parrots and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Illustration View Archive

  1. Lea-itsnicethat-main

    Great work here from German illustrator and comic artist Lea Heinrich who, according to her online bio, “often dreams about being on a subway train traveling underneath the massive steel and concrete construction of New York City. Sometimes she observes the other passengers, sometimes there’s nobody else on the train, and sometimes she doesn’t know where she is going, but either way it’s always exciting.” Cool! Her work is a nice mishmash of urban cuteness à la Andy Rementer and old German folk tales, and her comics have a wit about them not dissimilar to someone like Frau Franz or Matt the Horse. As well as being totally adept at cartoons and comics and illustrations, Brooklyn-based Lea can also design a banging poster, which is always a big plus.

  2. Marcelgeorge-port-itsnicethat-list

    Maybe it’s because I am a notoriously un-stylish man, but the product spreads in magazines usually do absolutely nothing for me. Flicking through multiple pages of artfully arranged man-bags strikes me as purgatorial, but I understand these kinds of features often have a commercial rationale in the complicated financial climate of modern magazine-making. Credit though when a publication strives to do something more interesting with these spreads, like the Russian version of Port magazine (or Port Россия) which commissioned Marcel George to illustrate a recent feature on watches.

  3. Adamnickel-itsnicethat-main

    I came across Adam Nickel’s work on a Mr Porter Journal article entitled How To Speak Professional-ese which outlined how the common man can attempt to understand office and business jargon. Adam Nickel’s perfect for a brand like Mr Porter. His drawings are inspired directly from packaging design and illustration in the 1950s and early 1960s, channeling the kinds of characters you may have seen rushing about in the background of The Pink Panther or chasing a pesky critter through some well-animated opening credits. Adam states on his site that he’s a lover of all things old – I assume he’s referring to design? – and is pushing out so-good-they-could-almost-be-actually-vintage illustrations at a mile a minute. Definitely one to commission if your brand or publication is lacking a spot of style and olde worlde charm.

  4. Sarahmazzetti-mit-itsnicethat-list

    It’s always a joy to hear from Bologna-based illustrator Sarah Mazzettti who has been a firm favourite of ours since we first stumbled across her gig posters back in 2012. The Italian image-maker seems to have settled on a more confident style in recent months and big-name commissions from the likes of Vice, The New York Times and MIT Technology have duly followed. But that unpredictable playful sensibility we so loved has not been entirely banished, as evidenced by her huge yellow giant holding up a room for the TICTIG exhibition at Casa Testori in Milan.

  5. Hattie-stewart-itsnicethat-list-2

    Hattie Stewart is back – not that the self-proclaimed doodle-bomber ever goes away for long – and this time it’s with reams of new work for her very own exhibition at the House of Illustration, entitled Adversary. In the first of what looks to be a whole series of commissions by the London-based gallery, she has created a collection of new (and enormous) pieces in her signature doodle style, decorating images from pop culture with accessories, stripes, googly eyes and emojis and generally elevating them beyond magazine fodder and into something entirely unique and infinitely bolder. 

  6. Jonjones-itsnicethat-list

    You know what we really love apart from great illustration? Seeing how that great illustration was made. Jonathan Jones is a South African illustrator who flits between countries making his beautiful work, but what sets him apart from most of the rest of his freelance counterparts is the way he documents that work online. It’s lovely of course to see the final product of his endeavours, but to see layers of red, yellow and blue build up into a singular image allows a kind of eureka moment where you instantly understand the practitioner’s skill and wish you’d spent more time learning about colour separations at university.

  7. Steven-harrington-itsnicethat-listr

    If pastel colours, psychedelia, totemic piles of strange, Lennon-esque faces and a Salvador Dalì approach to yin-yang symbols are your thing, it’s likely you’ll love the work of illustrator Steven Harrington. The California-based illustrator has spent his career making dreamy, magic, sunshine-infused work; and he’s recently updated his site with a bunch of new work. The piece that really made us grin like a blissed-out, long-haired hippy is the poster for Noise Pop, a refreshingly playful approach to promoting the likes of the equally playful Dan Deacon. Elsewhere, Steven’s been keeping himself busy designing some great patterns and images for New York clothes brand Staple, which are all melting yin-yangs and cactuses bent into Loch Ness Monster-type forms, naturally.

  8. Sacmagique-itsnicethat-main

    Sac Magique’s back with a brand new (magic) bag! The Finnish artist has updated his site – which I check almost as regularly as the news – with a bunch of new drawings in a new, sketchier style. As always his work has gotten funnier and more daring and I daresay he’s cracked up the weird levels a few notches. That’s why I love him, much like fellow Helsinki-based illustrator Rami Niemi, he approaches briefs from big brands with a carefree childish wit, unafraid to use cuss words, toilet humour and sarcasm in ample spoonfuls. He’s been making work for bands such as Fat White Family recently, and has been making personal work that rings of the cynical one-line cartoons found in pages of The New Yorker –the one entitled Drunk Online Shopping, and the London scene in particular. Sac, I love you. Let’s elope.

  9. Bernhardaxilko-itsnicethat-main

    Excuse the pun, but I’m a sucker for penis drawings. Birthday cards, desks, walls, Post-Its, other people’s books, car windscreens: to me the world is but a canvas for penile artwork. Judging by his startlingly extensive back catalogue of sexually charged, penis-infused illustrations, it seems Belgrade-based artist Bernharda Xilko is on the same page. His style is in the same camp as people like Patrick Kyle and Paul Paetzel but comes with a side order of terror, penetration and science fiction. For me, I like the depth of his one-panel cartoons, and how you can stare at it for a while like a saucy magic eye painting, and keep finding things you had missed first time around.

  10. Newyorker_01-wilfrid-wood-itsnicethat_list

    Giving us proof if it were needed that humour and style are in no way mutually exclusive, Wilfrid Wood has created a sweet, strange series of his signature plasticine caricatures for The New Yorker. The illustration spots feature throughout the mag’s style issue, aiming to sum up a variety of different New Yorkers “with hats and scarves and various accessories,” Wilfrid helpfully points out. As is typical of Wilfrid’s work, they’re very odd, sometimes ugly, and very brilliant, and rudimentary as they are we’re sure there’ll be a few folk in the Big Apple who see a little bit of themselves in these lumpy visages.

  11. Alisondubois-after-itsnicethat-list

    Alison Dubois is a San Francisco-based illustrator who channels all of the vitamin D from her native temperate climate into her work. Take After, for example, a collection of re-creations of works by great masters, including Henri Matisse, Peter Doig and a handful of Paul Gauguins. Her drawings are rendered in felt tip and dominated by primary colours, and looking at them for too long feels something like consuming a bottle of Sunny D via an IV drip.

  12. Thomas-slater-mosaic-itsnicethat-list

    It’s a good job “Thomas Slater, Illustrator” has such a nice ring to it, as we seem to be spending a lot of time on his website of late. His newest undertaking is for Mosaic, the science-led strand of the Wellcome Trust which is using commissioned illustration and photography to make even the most opaque of articles on their journal absorbing. For a piece entitled Do You Need to Go to Parent School? Thomas has created a series of drawings depicting kids both being encouraged by, and outsmarting, their ambitious parents – putting them on school buses, playing at being doctors from their buggies, or having their brains measured while diligently sipping on juice cartons. It’s the kind of commission which shows editorial illustration at its most challenging, but somehow Thomas manages to convey broad ideas about parenting and education with a simple and bold colour palette, outsmarting us all in the process.

  13. Sygold-itsnicethat-list-new

    Illustrator S.Y. Gold is one of growing number of young illustrators making a virtue of the limitations of digital software. His imagery makes clear its origins – Illustrator line tools and Photoshop’s airbrush can – in its exuberant final results. What’s the purpose of his unusual images? Hard to say but they display the beginnings of some great character design as well as the potential for interesting editorial applications.