By Hans Rickheit (Fantagraphics Books)
¡Perfect Present Alert! For him or her – if they’re “Of Age”
Hans Rickheit was born in 1973 and has been producing skilfully crafted art in many different arenas since the early 1990s, beginning with self-published mini-comics and graduating to full-sized, full-length epics as well as dabbling in film, music, gallery works and even performance art. A Xeric award beneficiary, he came to broader attention in 2001 with the controversial graphic novel Chloe, and has since spread himself wide contributing to numerous anthologies and periodicals.
He has been called obscurantist, and indeed in all his beautifully rendered and realised concoctions meaning is layered and open to wide interpretation. His preferred oeuvre is the imagery and milieu of Victorian/Edwardian Americana which provided such rich fantasist pickings for Poe, Lovecraft and Derleth, and his meticulously clear line is a perfect counterpoint to the cloud of mystery and cosmic confusion engendered by the protagonists of his latest book The Squirrel Machine.
The brothers Edmund and William Torpor live in a secluded 19th century New England town but have never been part of the community. Raised alone by their artist mother they are quite different from other kids, and Edmund especially is obsessed with arcane engineering and assembling musical instruments from utterly inappropriate components. Fantastic dream-like journeys and progressions mark their isolated existence, which is far more in tune with a greater metaphysical cosmos, but as puberty gradually moves them to an awareness of base human sexuality they find the outside world impacting theirs in ways that can only end in tragedy and horror…
Moreover, just where did the plans for the Squirrel Machine come from…?
Visually reminiscent of the works of Rick Geary, this is also a uniquely surreal and mannered design, a highly charged and subtly disturbing delusion that will chill and upset and possibly even outrage many readers but it is also compelling, seductive and hard to forget. As long as you’re an adult and braced for the unexpected, expect this to be one of the best books you’ll read this decade.
© 2009 Fantagraphics Books. Contents © 2009 Hans Rickheit. All Rights Reserved.