Blabworld #1

By various, edited by Monte Beauchamp (Last Gasp)
ISBN: 978-0-86719-746-4

For decades Monte Beauchamp’s iconic and innovative narrative and graphic arts magazine Blab! has highlighted the best and most groundbreaking trends and trendsetters in cartooning and other popular creative fields. Initially published through the auspices of the much missed Dennis Kitchen’s Kitchen Sink Press it moved over to Fantagraphics and now it has resurfaced, reformed in a snazzy hardback annual format from Last Gasp.

As ever there is an eclectic and eye-popping mix of strips, articles and features on show and Blabworld #1 opens with a gloriously enchanting sequence of paintings describing everything you wanted to know about ‘Slime Moulds’ crafted by Geoffrey Grahn, after which Kari Laine McCluskey enchants and disturbs with a series of toy and doll photomontages entitled ‘Colloidion’.

Greg Clarke delivers a droll and dry assault on the obsessive ownership mentality with ‘The Neurotic Art Collector’, Bill North examines youth’s most popular graphic symbol in ‘Skull!’ – an article tracing the use of the memento mori in popular publishing with loads of cool covers to ogle and covet – and Nora Krug relates in unique cartoon manner ‘Quicksand: The Tumultuous Life of Isabelle Eberhardt’, before cover artist Shag delivers another magically hip gag on the consumer society.

The major central portion of this volume is devoted to magnificent artworks in a variety of media from a stellar collection of artists grouped together under the umbrella theme of ‘Artpocalypse’:

Ron English contributed ‘The Creation of Evolution’, Ryan Heshka depicted ‘The Rapture’, Owen Smith showed ‘Fin’ and Jean-Pierre Roy revealed ‘No Secrets Left From Us.’ ‘Beyond the Fence’ came via Martin Wittfooth, Kathleen Lolly showed ‘Knowledge Dies Too’ and Andy Kehoe painted ‘When the Last Leaf Falls’. Andrea Dezso contributed ‘Strangely Normal’, Natalia Fabia ‘Hooker in the Apocalypse’, Karen Barbour ‘Lamentations Over the Merciless Void’, Edel Rodriguez ‘Farewell to Grace’ and Fred Stonehouse ‘Dream of St. John’.

‘Well-Matched Lovers’ by Marc Burckhardt is followed by Femke Hiemstra’s ‘Hayano & Koheu’, Calef Brown’s ‘Endtime Tigerbird’, Larry Day’s ‘Rapture in Birdville’ and underground commix legend Spain Rodriguez delivers a glimpse of ‘2012’.

Lowbrow art virtuoso Mark Ryden displays his ‘End of the World’, Yoko D’Holbachie contributes ‘Final Farewell’, Gary Basemen ‘Another Average Day’, Alex Gross ‘Jozaikai (Purgatory)’, Sue Coe ‘Revenge of the Swine’, Sofia Arnold ‘Smoke Cave’ and Gary Taxali illuminates both ‘End World’ and ‘Rapture’.

‘Armageddon Flub’ by Travis Lampe, John Pound predicts ‘All Things Must Fall’, Kris Kuksi conducts ‘An Opera for the Apocalypse’ and Ryan Heshka returns to deliver a ‘Flaming End’ (as well as the mesmerising back cover).

Michael Noland reveals the ‘Revelation Roaches’, Teresa James collects ‘Weapons of Divine Power’, and Tom Huck a ‘Pile O’ Poon’ before Joe Sorren wraps it all up with ‘The Secret Collapse of Miss Lorraine’.

After the art show Sergio Ruzzier takes up the comic strip baton with a mercurial watercolour saga entitled ‘The Life of an Artist’, designer Steven Heller explores the hypnotic cover art of R. Crumb in ‘Covering Weirdo’ whilst James Lowe relates the astounding history of ‘Propaganda Caricature Art of World War II’ in ‘Axe the Axis!’ before Mark Landman amuses and offends with the story of ‘Fetal Elvis’ Art Empire’.

Steven Guarnaccia adapts Julia Moores poem ‘Lament on the Death of Willie’, Mark Todd details the sordid horror of ‘The Dreaded Mothman of West Virginia’ and ‘Ballpoint Bravura: Drawings by CJ Pyle’ spotlights the incredible dexterity and imagination of the rock drummer turned graphic craftsman with superstar Peter Kuper dramatically closing out this first fantastic happening with his appropriately apocalyptic strip ‘Four Horsemen’

There has never been a more vibrant and exciting time for lavish imaginative art and cutting edge graphic narrative and this superb catalogue of marvels is sure to become a watchword for what to watch out for.

© 2010 by the respective creators and contributors. All rights reserved.