so, i've pretty much finished reading Kramers Ergot 7 and...
i want to like it a lot more than i do. this is probably largely due to the fact that a great deal of money was spent to attain a copy. but i really was expecting nearly cover-to-cover amazing work. i feel like i was owed that. i can accept some missteps, that's fine.
but this is mostly missteps.
well, not mostly missteps. a number of missteps, and a number of...botched opportunities.
bill randall makes a number of good observations that i agree with. for example...
some artists simply fail to utilize the scale that they are allowed. dan clowes, jaime hernandez and seth in particular. three well-established artists that sammy harkham invited to contribute to the book because they had never had the opportunity to work at such a scale (ok, fine) and they absolutely blow it. their pieces are dull as dishwater. i can't blame sammy for pitching a very expensive endeavor to a wider audience by including well known names (matt groening has a piece, for god's sake), but the colleciton suffers for it. these milquetoast offerings fly directly in the face of what made Kramers thrilling in the first place.
i'm not much of a fan of johnny ryan and here he is in traditional form with a piece spoofing david heatley's sex history comic from Kramers 5. this and heatley's own awkward, uncomfortably bordering-on-weirdly-racist contribution seem a total waste of valuable space.
again i agree with randall that more female artists should have been included. i would have loved to have seen genviève castrée, vanessa davis, or allison cole working at this size. instead we have more of the rote comic genres of crude sex drawings or, in other pieces (see: matt thurber, jacob ciocci) psyched-out drug-hazed nonsensical...crap.
there is also the problem that while some pieces do take advantage of the page size, many of the works are strident and doggedly set on being very, very ugly. some are filled with incomprehensible content (as previously noted) or are exceedingly dark. i mean, really dark.
content aside, some of the most visually successful pieces are the ones that have a tastefully unified color pallette, like in frank santoro's spacious spread and work from blexbolex, john pham, and dan zettwoch.
then there are the pieces in which the artist effectively fills the vast pages allotted to them, and the work really has a sense of logic to it. chris ware impresses with his strip that circulates around a life-size rendering of a baby. shoboshobo made what is certainly the most epic, difficult-to-read table of contents ever. tom gauld's comic does the story of noah's ark justice by imbueing it with an appropriate sense of scale and giving minor biblical figures relatable, realistic humanity. gauld's piece is probably my favorite out of the whole book.
i could go on and on, talking about the positives and negatives of each individual piece, but i'd exhaust myself. maegan said that she thinks that i have more discerning tastes than some when it comes to comics, and i think that's true. i'm not a guy who can have any sort of indie comic fall into his lap and think "wow, this is amazing!" and so i can't just swallow this book whole.
i suppose it's like pretty much every other edition of Kramers. some work is stunning, some of it is, again, so...so ugly, and some of it is just...ok. there's no denying that it's a beautiful object, and in spite of inconsistent content, a considerable amount of care was put into completing the project. it could be that some of the artists involved just didn't know how to handle a task so huge, and they wound up beefing it. understandable. with the comics field as wide as it is today it truly is exciting that Kramers 7 can make its way into the world now, warts and all.