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.
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.
The Moon-Headed Man
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.
The Best Pot Ever
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.
The Comic You Can’t Get in the UK
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.
The Empty House
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.