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martedì 6 agosto 2013

Golem Stories

Sammy Harkham, Coconino Press, Bologna (Italy), June 2013, paperback, 128 pages, 19 euro.

Italian version, with bonus features, of 2011 PictureBox anthology Everything Together. Harkham, 33 year old, is one of the most influential artists in the North-American indie comics scene, as an author and as Kramers Ergot editor. He is also the owner of Family, a Los Angeles bookstore. One of the best comics in the book is Poor Sailor, already published in Italy by Coconino on the seventh issue of the anthology Black. Originally seen on Kramers 4, the story is characterized by sparse dialogue and a graphic style à la Popeye, on which Harkham puts explosions of realism and violence. The revision of the tradition is typical of Harkham, as evidenced by the constant references to Jewish culture. His tales are linear but proceed always with ellipses, without being didactical.
Another important comic in the book is Somersaulting, here in a different version from the one published in Drawn & Quarterly Showcase 3. Harkham leaves the 9 panels per page of the Showcase version and chooses a 4 panel scheme that brings breath and wideness in the story of two girls in the 90s Australia, a kind of rural Ghost World.
Also noteworthy are the jewish tale Lubavitch Ucraina 1876, the exploitation-surrealist pastiche Nightmare and The New Yorker Story, four pages full of panels (up to 25 per page) in white, black and blue, in which Harkham sketches the figure of a wannabe-writer, adulterer and envious academic.
Golem Stories is an ironic, deep and smart book, both humble and ambitious, the work of a young and multi-talented artist, who is already one of the greatest cartoonists of our time.

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