By Adrian Norvid
Drawn & Quarterly
Nogoodnik: n. A worthless, disreputable, or malicious person
Another one of those Petits Livres books from Drawn & Quarterly, that really haven’t done that much for me in the past. Essentially my problem with them is that they’re merely art books with occasional mixing of words and pictures, not comics, and actually feel rather like gallery exhibition catalogues than anything else.
But presenting them as lavish books seems completely unnecessary to my eye, as every week I find a number of artists doing the same thing (in presentation at least) online. The idea of putting out these gallery brochure books seems increasingly pointless in our online world.
At least Nogoodniks eschews the previous Petits Livres problem of presenting the work in a tiny (petit) format. Nogoodniks is anything but “petit” – coming in somewhere around A4 in size and presented in landscape format, here the works are at least presented with some sense of grandeur. (Although of course, that grandeur does come with a bigger price tag)
Enough bemoaning of the concept though, here’s some of what you get in Nogoodniks…….
According to the Drawn & Quarterly press release, Nogoodniks….
“collects a ragtag group of images that draw from popular brand slogans, tropes of 1970s counterculture, bad puns, and the sardonic wit of Adrian Norvid. Pages alternate between cartoonish caricatures, parodies of commercial products, and tongue-in-cheek self-congratulatory affirmations that the author has written to himself. Norvid’s images disarm us; their appealing colours and lines draw us in and then their inappropriate language and sometimes vulgar meanings make us blush. By pairing childish, crude imagery or messages with a refined, appealing drawing style, Norvid confronts us with our own attitudes about culture and what is appropriate, and points out the fun in doing and saying things your mom told you not to.”
Or, alternatively, if you’re me, you flick through, like some of what he does with the imagery, like his line and his colour work, smile at a few of the wordplay gags, get to the end and wonder if perhaps you’re missing something…. missing the point. Because I’m damn sure Norvid meant for me to do something other then shrug and say his art is quite nice.
But no, that’s it I’m afraid. There’s part of me here that sits rather insecurely trying to second guess what I should be saying with this one, whether by merely going hmmm I’m exposing some hideous cultural and artistic deficiency. But in the end it, like too many of these petits livre series just feels pretty pointless, or at best pretty yet pointless.
However, if there are any artists out there who really love what they see, and want my copy of this in return for telling me why I’m a complete artistic philistine, do feel free to get in touch and I’ll send you the book.
(UPDATE – After 6 months I passed the book on, apologies if you’re reading this in the year 2035 and fancy a free book!)