Desert Island Comics – Episode 77 – Katriona Chapman
Time, for the last time this season, to send a lone comicker on a one-way journey to one of a series of small FPI branded desert islands. We’ve checked with them for one luxury and the eight essential pieces of comic magnificence they want to take and they’re ever so happy to see these waiting for them as they disembark. Not so happy to see the good ship FPI pull away and leave them though. Ooops.
(Tiny Pencil Vol 4, cover by Allison Sommers)
For the last time this year, it’s Desert Island Comics… and today we have Katriona Chapman, of Five and Brockley Foxtrot and the co-creator (with Amber Hsu) of the excellent celebration of all things small and graphite based, the lovely artzine Tiny Pencil, the fourth issue of which is out right now. Tiny Pencil’s proving to be a fascinating thing, allowing artists to experiment, play around, shift up their styles, and each issue thus far has had something impressively new to delight. Chapman’s personal work is mostly pencil, and her beautiful handmade comics and books are gorgeous things, art objects in and of themselves.
(Brockley Foxtrot, 2012)
(Recent illustration – Beautiful Relics short film)
We’ll return sometime in the new year with a new season of Desert Island Comics, but for now, enjoy the wonderful choices of Katriona Chapman
Desert Island Comics – Episode 77 – Katriona Chapman
My first choice would be ‘Buddy Does Seattle’ by Peter Bagge. Hate was the first comic I ever really fell in love with… in my late teens a friend lent me Hate floppies by the carrier bag full until I’d read them all. Even though I grew up in London/Brighton instead of Seattle, there was an uncanny amount to relate to in terms of the characters and situations of my own awkward 90s teenage years. I also loved the mundanity and ordinariness of the storylines and settings, which I responded to much more than any of the superhero-type comics I’d read at that point. It’s a really funny comic and one of the few things I’ve ever re-read several times over.
I know I’m not technically allowed a webcomic, but there are so many great ones I hope I’ll be allowed to pick one. Maybe I just happened to print out an entire webcomic archive just before becoming stranded on the island?! Continuing on from Hate and how I love stories of the everyday… there are lots of really great autobio comics that I love to read online. It’s hard to narrow it down but one of my favourites is ‘Bouletcorp’ by Boulet (aka Gilles Roussel.) He has masses of work there – four years’ worth on his translated English site and a decade’s worth on his French site. The style changes a fair bit over time which is really interesting to see. Sometimes his comics contain fantastical elements but even then they mostly end up dealing with the drudgery of everyday life!
Another long-time favourite is ‘Tekkonkinkreet: Black and White’ by Taiyō Matsumoto. It’s just masterful storytelling with equally powerful writing and art. Brilliantly written characters, pathos, violence, humour, psychological drama and great expressive drawing. I love everything about it!
For a classic mix of darkness and humour I’ll also have ‘Amphigorey’ by Edward Gorey. This volume is nicely varied… I particularly love the absurdism in stories like ‘The Object-Lesson’ and the wordless ‘The West Wing’.
For a change in tone I’d like to pick a book I’ve just finished reading… ‘Palestine’ by Joe Sacco. I started reading it unsure of how much I’d enjoy it as I don’t naturally take to politics or journalism, but I was completely bowled over. His writing is extraordinary and he manages to pack in masses of factual content whilst also making it feel a bit like a rollercoaster which is totally amazing to me. His art is great and I loved his varied page designs. The book also taught me more about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict than anything else I’ve read (or tried to read) on the subject.
Robert Crumb is a comic artist I’ve always liked and admired very much. Growing up I was fascinated with the 60s and I fell in love with his work as soon as I saw it. Crumb is master draughtsman, and I’ve always been in awe of his prolific output and his unswerving commitment to drawing and writing whatever he damn well wants. For my desert island pick I’ll go for ‘The R. Crumb Handbook’ to have a good spread of work from throughout his career.
Next I have a vintage pick from my own collection… a 320-page hardback book from 1952 called ‘The Golden Book of Comics.’ This was my dad’s and I’ve always loved it’s totally outdated charm and musty smell. Reading it is like stepping into a time machine… there’s a post from Katriona on her blog here all about The Golden Book Of Comics.
My final choice is ‘Gary’s Garden – Book 1’ by Gary Northfield. Gary is a master of silliness and fun and this book would keep my spirits up on the island. His stories are also inventive and clever and full of brilliant characterisations and surprising concepts. His character’s voices are fantastically varied (Boris the fox being a favourite example!) …and the facial expressions/colour palettes are joyful.
Luxury: I’m not sure what the climate of the island is like, but if there’s any chance of cold nights then I’ll take my electric blanket.