Blood Orange #3

Posted: Tuesday, March 29, 2005
By: Amos Simien

Cover of Blood Orange #3

Editor: Chris Polkki
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
Address: 7563 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115
Price: $2.95/$9.55 Canada

Fantagraphics may be (arguably) the largest of the small press publishers, but they champion the work and art of small press cartoonists the world over. Evidence, you ask? They're doing it again - publishing another anthology. The people who brought you Zero Zero, Centrifugal Bumblepuppy, Honk! and more present editor Chris Polkki's Blood Orange.

The quarterly anthology series is a combination or in the tradition of venerable anthologies like Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly's RAW and Drawn & Quarterly, from the publisher of the same name. That means Blood Orange acts as a forum for both established and up-and-coming cartoonists, a place where alt-cartoonists, self-publishers, and small press guys and gals can showcase their short works in a publishing format from a publisher that can help them reach a wider or new audience. In that vein, Blood Orange features a short but dense narrative entitled "Just Don't Stop." It's the work of Jeffrey Brown who is getting notice because Top Shelf recently published his former mini-comic, Bighead, as a small graphic novel. "Just Don't Stop" is an autobiographical piece about doomed love, and its flavor is decidedly like the kind a self-conscience comix we get from a Chester Brown or a Joe Matt. The tale is engaging and sad, and Brown's frankness actually hides the fact that such real life tales often seem pointless or beg the question, "I want to read your comix, but does that mean I have to read stuff like this?"

If anything, Blood Orange reminds me most of Monte Beauchamp's combative series, "the anthology of the graphic design and illustration arts," BLAB!. Like BLAB!, Blood Orange is less about narrative and more about design and illustration, in which cartoonists and comic book creators focus more on the visual than the narrative. It's comix as fine arts, which means that there might not be a meaning behind a particular one-page "comic." Maybe, it's about technique. Maybe, it's about an idea. Maybe, it's just an artist expressing him or herself.

However, any anthology that has the likes of Renee French, Nicolas Mahler, Anders Nilsen, and Ulf K will get my attention. Plus, the blazing cover by French illustrator Olivier Douzou is eye-catching.

In a Word: Hemorrhage

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