Caleb Orecchio here on this Labor Day edition of the Daily News with thoughts on Connor Willumsen’s new book from Koyama Press, Anti-Gone–and other news.
Connor Willumsen is one of thee premier drawers in comics. His prowess envelops the many styles of drawing found in comics, from expertly rendered figures, cars, and buildings–to minimal, child-like characters that would be at home in kid’s manga magazines. His new book, Anti-Gone—from thee great Koyama Press—to me really pushes Connor’s ideas as a cartoonist beyond just the pretty drawings. I feel he’s really digging deep into his bag of “tricks,” and expanding the language of the comics medium to a degree.
First I want to say, that when I started to read Anti-Gone, I pinned it as a sci-fi comic–almost Brandon Graham-esque with a hint of Moebius (or vice versa); but as I read on, it was clear (to me at least) that this takes place in a “cartoon world.” Allow me to try to explain: In this world, you wouldn’t call a talking gorilla a “talking gorilla”–you would simply say, “that person is a gorilla.” if you would even care to make the distinction between a gorilla or human or whatever at all. Does that make sense? It’s like the fox and cat who sell Pinocchio to that puppeteer I think. Nobody says, “whoa a talking fox and cat!” they are just characters. Anyway, this detail of a cartoon world is not particularly pertinent to the story, but I felt it was worth pointing out. It’s our world, through Connor’s eyes.
Something that made this crystal clear to me was when the seemingly alien girl undos her hair (directly below). What were once strange sacks on her head were now obviously a Connor-fide version of the double braid–see Kylie Jenner reference directly below the below excerpt.
Two prominent formalistic tools Connor really utilizes well and to a very singular degree, particularly, is 1.) the economic use of visual reference, and 2.) the depiction of movement through sequential images–most notably the former, often they are used together with great success.
The below page is from the perspective of our heroes as they float along a river watching a dog in a window as they pass by. We see the buildings in the background (where we get our main, big picture reference–the buildings–a sense of place) and Connor zeroes in on the doggy in the window giving us a simultaneous impression of where we are and where we are moving to without showing the characters (whose POV we are experiencing) within the page.
Another good example is the below two-panel sequence of one of the protagonists making their way up a flight of stairs. First, Connor shows us the entire scene of the stairs with all it’s intricacies and hustle and bustle. Then he quiets it down by stripping away all the noise to show the girl going up the stairs (obviously the same stairs moments after the panel before it). This use of visual reference from detailed rendering to stripped down essential detail is both formalistically economical and tonally/emotionally important to the narrative–two birds with one stone. A+
I could go on and on about this book. Connor Willumsen is a blackbelt of formalism in comics. There is an unending sense of “thinking” in this book. Every angle and every option is considered. Highly recommend this book both for the tasteful, passive reader AND to the comics scholar looking for forward-thinking new work.
Frank Santoro made a comic book about his parents and now he needs help making a handbound copy of the book for each of them. It’s a good story. Check out the Indiegogo campaign HERE – or if you want to contribute via PayPal, look at the campaign HERE.
if you don’t know now you know
- Hey not to brag but Comics Workbook will be at SPX conducting workshops so don’t miss out! After looking at the workshops you want to go to, sign up here. Gilbert Hernandez, Mardou, Alexis Ziritt, Connor Willumsen, Liz Reed, Juan Fernandez, Sally Ingraham, Audra Stang–what more could you possibly want?!
- Did you catch Joe McCulluoch’s final “This Week in Comics” entry?
- Jerry Moriarty is the latest guest on Inkstuds.
- Did you know you can download this San-Diego Comic Con Kirby 100th Celebration book for free?
- Have you missed Brandon Graham’s idiosyncratic blogging?? Well look no further because he’s back with a new one. Looks like he’ll have other contributors involved–firstly with A Sarah Horrocks entry about 2-page spreads.
Suzy and Cecil – 9-4-2017 – by Sally Ingraham
Joanie and Jordie – 9-4-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio