Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Understanding Monster – Books 1, 2, 3 by Theo Ellsworth

(GUEST REVIEW BY JAKE AUSTEN) (Secret AcresAfter consuming Ellsworth’s enriching, confounding, mesmerizing, beyond beautiful epic, I understand the story less than I did before I started it, but I am satisfied, in awe, and quite frankly, I couldn’t eat another bite. Other than some traces of the idiosyncratic weirdness of the Fort Thunder collective, Ellsworth’s work doesn’t invoke other comics makers, instead bringing to mind the most intriguing elements of “high art,” and outsider art (such as the precious obsessiveness of Chris Ofili’s pencil drawings and the maddened immoderation of Henry Darger’s work). By positioning genuinely strange nightmare vision figures against astonishingly dense, richly textured backgrounds, Ellsworth presides over a shotgun wedding between 3-D dynamism and soothing flatness. This eerie fairytale (mostly taking place in the mind of an immobilized mummy, and involving ghosts, a laughing demon, and a three-eyed house gnome) comes to  a sort of satisfying conclusion that may or may not resolve (?) with the character/artist drawing a/this story, but despite my confusion, I unequivocally enjoyed the bewildering experience of navigating this visual feast. Perhaps there is another comparable cartoonist – I could never follow former Chicagoan Edie Fake’s Gaylord Phoenix, but I still consider it one of the greatest pieces of contemporary cartooning. Ellsworth, likewise, has cohesively combined the confounding and convincing.

No comments:

Post a Comment