This is a partial and rough English version of my blog Just Indie Comics (Banner by Pat Aulisio)

martedì 10 marzo 2015

A weekend at the Fumetto Festival

Tardi, Norwegian artist Pushwagner, Cowboy Henk, the duo Goblet-Pfeiffer and The Swiss Art of Rock are the main themes of the new edition of Fumetto Festival, from Saturday 7 March until Sunday 15 March in Lucerne. The International Comix-Festival is happening far and wide in the Swiss city, with a small comic market and a long row of awesome exhibitions perfectly set up in museums, industrial spaces, hotels, galleries, historical buildings and so on. In this post I'm proposing a photo gallery of my two days in the country of Carl Gustav Jung, Stéphane Chapuisat and Ursula Andress, beginning with some pictures I made on the way to the festival and absolutely not related to comics...

And so I arrived at the Small Press Heaven, in the central Kornschütte, the core of the show and a place where about twenty exhibitors from different European countries can sell their self-produced comics, while Analph bookshop from Zurich provides a good choice of books from all over the world. The list of past weekend exhibitors included Ampel Magazine, B.ü.L.b Comix, Centrala, Hécatombe, Hollow Press, kuš!, Misma and many others. New publishers and creators will be in Lucerne next weekend (names available here).

Speaking of the exhibitions, the retrospective about Tardi is absolutely the most significant and also striking. The Neubad, a former swimming pool with an industrial feeling, hosts the most comprehensive collection to date of Tardi's original artworks, from the comics about the First World War to the adaptations of French crime stories by Malet and Manchette, with the beautiful work made on the reconstruction of Paris, with its buildings, bridges, shadows and rain. There were also pages from Le Cri du peuple series, from the book Ici Même written by Barbarella's creator Jean-Claude Forest and obviously from the adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (included the first episode Adèle et la bête, dated 1976), one of the milestone of adventure comics. Tardi is one of the special guests of the show with the musical comic reading Putain de guerre next Friday 13 March and he'll also do a session of signings Saturday 14 March.

Another special guest is Norwegian pop artist Pushwagner, with a stunning exhibition at Kunstmuseum, mostly centred on Soft City, a comic masterpiece from the Seventies. This is an extraordinary parable about human existence depicted through the regular day of a man like many others. The themes of conformism, capitalism and control are rendered with detailed illustrations of lines and lines of men caught in their obsessive daily routine, while rows of cars and buildings communicate a sense of claustrophobia and oppression. Unfortunately I couldn't take pictures in the museum, so I'll post some photos from the other exhibitions, as the two events dedicated to Cowboy Henk, the extremely funny and widely imitated cult figure created by Belgian cartoonists Kamagurka and Herr Seele (the latter, another special guest of Fumetto, is meeting visitors at Hotel Schweizerhof in the days of the show).

The set-up of the exhibition about Dominique Goblet and Kai Pfeiffer is also very remarkable. The two creators published the graphic novel Plus si entente for Fremok last year, a story centred on a mother who, after a divorce, spends her days on dating websites. This key idea is well represented in the main room, where drawings become an installation, a sort of "garden of love" populated by personal ads, profiles, faces, objects and sounds from the potential partners of the woman. The original artworks from the comic, characterized by the versatility of styles and techniques, are exposed in an equally interesting second room.

The Kunsthalle hosts Die Not Hat Ein Ende - The Swiss Art of Rock, an exploration of the symbiosis between graphics and rock music in Switzerland through the works of 19 Swiss designers and artists who made LP covers, concert posters, flyers and illustrations for prog, hard rock, punk, new wave and noise bands, from H.R. Giger to Cédric Magnin, from Dirk Bonsma to many others.

For further informations about the festival and the other exhibitions, you can visit the website and the Facebook page of Fumetto, where you can also find a lot of pictures documenting the first days of the event.

domenica 1 marzo 2015

Industrial Revolution, World War and a Tetsupendium

The Italian Hollow Press is back but this time the news isn't about the new issue of Under Dark Weird Fantasy Grounds (scheduled for the beginning of April) but about two new publications both from Japanese artists debuting at the Fumetto Festival in Luzern next 7 and 8 March. The new books are Industrial Revolution and World War by Shintaro Kago, a new entry in Hollow Press roster, and Tetsupendium Tawarapedia by Tetsunori Tawaraya, already published in UDWFG
Kago's book is a dystopian nightmare where man is reduced to a machine, the brain is only a way to command him and his body a weapon, while two alien factions battle in an architecturally majestic scenery. Bodies mingle with buildings, violence with sex, horror with humor in the typical Kago's style. Industrial Revolution and World War is an A4 book, 32 pages with hardcover, limited edition of 350 copies. The pre-order is 15% off until 11 March at the Hollow Press website, where you can also buy the original artworks.

Tetsupendium Tawarapedia collects the best of Tetsunori Tawaraya's work from 2002 to 2012. If I have defined his style in UDWFG as an "underground pointillism", this time he uses a wider array of solutions. The long sequence of illustrations and short comics highlights the stylistic growth of the Japanese cartoonist, so that the reader can become more familiar with his mutant nightmares, populated by winged creatures, deconstructed human figures, monoliths, zombies, skulls, children with too many arms and legs.

The mood is very different from Kago's  book, but there is a work on the human body, redefined and sometimes brutalized, that is similar in both these new books from Hollow Press. Even the Tetsupendium - 400 pages in black and white, A5 format, limited edition of 500 copies - is available at a special pre-order price until 11 March.