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Blab! Volume 15
posted December 13, 2004
 

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Creators: Monte Beauchamp and Various
Publishing Info: Fantagraphics Books, 120 Pages, $19.95, Autumn 2004.
Ordering Numbers: 1560976136 (ISBN)

The last few issues of Blab! have been interesting for their almost dogged resistance to publishing a lot of quality comics, which seemed a left-turn from the series' considerable challenge as top comics anthology going as it broke into the double digits. Those of us paying attention simply figured that editor Monte Beauchamp was pushing his book more and more into the realm of illustration showcases, with the comics coming from a few trustworthy regulars, particularly Spain Rodriguez.

Now Beauchamp's screwed with us again, because he latest volume of Blab! is filled with a great number of good, interesting comics from a whole lot of people. There no jaw-droppers here, nothing that would carry a volume in and by itself, but in a time when it seems so many cartoonists have lost the ability to do a short story there's a lot of decent ones on display here. Spain's broader autobiographical piece tells anecdotes about Spain's cartoon education that fit in with Beauchamp's theory of the undergrounds as cultural revenge for the death of EC Comics. There are also meaty shorts from Nicholas Debon, Marc Rosenthal and the team of Hoey and Freund; all told in styles that kind of thwart easy consumption of narrative and force you to grapple with the artists' intentions.

Rounding out the, the more illustrative pieces from Drew Friedman, Gary Baseman and David Sandlin are all choice. I also enjoyed a few very rollicking wild pages of art from Reumann and Robel, doodled creatures crowded together like a game of Pick Up Sticks, a kind of hellish version of the mega-detailed jokescapes from MAD. I can't imagine anyone searching out comics stories is going to be happy, and it lacks that one major work to make it a stand-alone buy for anyone who doesn't share an interest in more than one area of Beauchamp's interests. Still, this volume indicates that the editor has more to say about comics than it seemed he did 24 to 48 months ago, and it's a welcome voice to have back even if it's not yet shouting loud enough to fill a room.