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posted January 26, 2006
Nick Bantock with Dennis K. Meyer
Viking Penguin, 1992
I'm not sure how I ended up with this adorable little hardcover in my big stack of comics. Nick Bantock, the author of Griffin and Sabine and its related projects, is probably due for some sort of reclamation from comics sources. My gut feeling is that he's one of those guys who succeeded so well on a high concept that it's going to be difficult for anyone to judge if his art overall surprasses the kind of cloying sentimentality of his writing. That guy was everywhere for a while; I even once tried to sell a My Name is Earl
version called "Clifford and Doreen." With artists like Souther Salazar comfortable working with collage and thinkers like Eddie Campbell to pull the stick out of comics' collective ass when it comes to the illustrated book, it seems books similar to Bantock's are a definite market possibility.
This little volume, on the other hand, is just a straight-forward children's book, and kind of an unimpressive one. The little Solomon Grundy rhyme is usually said to represent the ages of man, and that blunt, literal take on it is what you get here. I like the basic illustration involved, but the pop-ups and hidden doors are deathly dull. Something this slight should have been extraordinarily beautiful to justify its publication; this book doesn't come close to matching it. It should be very interesting to see the Fort Thunder generation of artists get into children's work as they continue to have kids; they needn't look at Solomon Grundy
as any kind of example.