By André Barbe (Volksverlag)
I’m not saying this is setting any precedent, but to be honest there’s so much great comic material I’d like to share, and it’s not just separated from us by a gulf of years and publisher’s timidity: Lots of it has simply never been collected in English language editions. So when I came across this mostly wordless little gem I thought, “I’m Free, (as good as) Single and so very Over 21”… and this review is the result.
If you Google the name André Barbe you’ll find lots of stuff about “Shift-add correlation patterns of linear cellular automata” and the like. Well, I’m talking about the other one, the artist and cartoonist fascinated both by sex and by the progression and sequencing of pictures which slowly transform from one state of meaning to another.
Most of Barbe’s output is lasciviously erotic, with many overtones and similarities to the designs and vision of Vaughn Bodé, but the silent panoramas indicate very personal obsessions. The fascination with minute pictorial changes which lead to a total transformation, not just of the physical representations but usually also the mental or spiritual state of the subject, as well as the content make his drawings and strips a mesmerising, languid journey of discovery. He also has a wicked, sly, sardonic sense of humour.
I honestly don’t know where or even if you can find examples of his work. Perhaps some of our European readers might be able to offer some suggestions? All I know is that this is brilliant and innovative use of the techniques that are uniquely the province of graphic narrative and sequential art, and that I for one and probably many of you, would love to see more.
Artwork © 1981 André Barbe and Volksverlag. All Rights Reserved or Alles Rechte vorbehalten if you prefer.