R.I.P. Best of 1984-2004

By Thomas Ott and friends (Fantagraphics Books)
ISBN: 987-1-60699-417-7

Being an old geezer but unreconstructed punk at heart I can firmly attest and confirm that the teen-years urge to shock and addiction to loud, fast, shouty-boy music never goes away. The same holds true for in-your-face comic strips…

Thomas Ott is a Swiss cartoonist, musician, satirist and film-maker (born in Berne in June 1966) who has, since the mid-1980s, been producing stunning strips and pastiches for commercial publications such as Ahai, Okay Erotik Magazin, Strapazin, Süddeutsche Zeitung, El Vibora, Libération, L’Echo des Savanes and a host of others whilst pursuing his own uniquely meticulous trash-culture visions in self-published monochrome anthological albums such as Tales of Error, Dead End, and Greetings from Hellville.

Now this retrospective compendium from Fantagraphics presents 19 of the very best (seven never before seen) spanning two decades of shocking horror, crime noir, mordant, nihilistic love, juicy revenge, surreal justice and bleak, black irony all delivered in Ott’s signature and obsessively meticulous scratchboard style, with gleaming white narrative emerging from ebon pages, sans dialogue but occasionally boasting impressive and imaginative typography.

Beginning with raw and raucous EC comics homages ‘The Hero’, ‘Clean Up!’, ‘A Wrinkled Tragedy’ and ‘Headbanger’; gradually building up to longer – and far shorter – pieces such as ‘10 Ways to Kill Your Husband’, ‘Massacre Melodies Presents Buddy Butcher in “Buddy Goes Bloody”’, ‘G.O.D.’, ‘Goodbye!’, ‘The Job’‘10’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

Hardbitten mystery and sardonic imagination begin to predominate with ‘Breakdown’, ‘The Millionairs’ and ‘Washing Day’ but there’s still room for a laugh in ‘Dawn of the Dead’ and ‘The Clown’ or a disturbing chill in ‘La Fiancée du Lapin’ (written by David B) and sheer exuberance in ‘Recuerdos de Mexico’ before ending in classic droll darkness with ‘The Hook’.

Ott’s psychobilly sensibilities litter his narrative world with pimps, thugs and geeks; desperate chancers, deadly beloveds and down and outs on the edge of reality as well as society, so if jaded comics fans might feel they’ve been here before, the wider world are still only curious first-timers into a dismal dimension of vice, spice and bad advice…

Graphic, violent funny and unforgettable this is a special treat for thrill-starved adults in search of something a little beyond the norm…

© 2010 Verlag bbb Edition Moderne AG Switzerland except “La Fiancée du Lapin” © 1996 David B and Thomas Ott. All rights reserved.