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venerdì 11 luglio 2014

Irene #4

Various Artists, Irene (distributed by Hic & Hoc), April 2014, perfect bound, 152 pages, black and white, A5, $ 15.

The new issue of Irene is a jam session among its editors with the participation of several special guests. Initially related to the Center for Cartoon Studies, the anthology is freeing itself from its origins and also in this fourth issue finds strenght in the heterogeneity of contributions, as well as in a high quality standard. Starting from the collaborations between dw, Dakota McFadzean and Andy Warner, it seems that Ten Minutes Break - published in the third issue (here the review) and created by the first two - built a modus operandi. Veronica and the Good Guys in "Ain't Pussy Footin!" shows Warner drawing the characters portrayed in the previous issue by the same dw, now author of the story, creating an inner continuity: Warner's line, usually curvy but also realistic, is now cartoony, following the rhythm of a hyper-violent rock concert, in one of the best works in the book.

The three crave to innovate, change, experiment, borrowing the style of the other, taking his peculiarities, as Generals and Gods (by McFadzean/dw) and A Dream (by Warner/McFadzean) confirm. The fact that dw - with the usual sketchy and experimental style - draws also Walk Like You Mean It, written by Power Paola, gives further homogeneity to an anthology well cohesive thanks also to the interstitial cartoons (this time the funny gags by Ben Juers) and to the connections between a lot of the stories. The same Generals and Gods shares with The Dark by Laura Terry the theme of a threatening entity, Black Boots by Jackie Roche chooses the presidential subject just like Zapruder 313 by Luke Howard, while Emi Gennis' Nyos has in common the desolate and post-catastrophe setting with Yellow Plastic by James Hindle. These are two of the best things in the anthology: the first is a quiet account of a dramatic historical fact, while Hindle builds an intense work of fiction, characterized by small panels, sharp-cornered drawings and a narration near to the tradition of the American short story.

Boats by the Lebanese Mazen Kerbaj and Access by Georgia Webber are also excellent. Kerbaj is a new Mid-eastern cartoonist after Barrack Rima published in the previous issue: he is able to play with the geometry of the medium but also to break its patterns with visionary portraits of sailors and sea creatures. Georgia Webber tries instead to represent her vocal injuries using the layout of the page and a truly remarkable style. In conclusion I'd like to mention the illustrations by Amy Lockhart, with a gallery of literally disarticulated naked women, and Carlista Martin, a young, talented and brilliant illustrator based in Washington who mixes Julie Doucet, underground art, Bible references and Mondo Hipster.

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