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Bardin The Superrealist
posted October 27, 2006
 

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Creator: Max
Publishing Information: Fantagraphics, Hardcover, 80 pages, July 2006, $19.95
Ordering Numbers: 1560977590 (ISBN)

Bardin the Superrealist gets my vote for oddest read of the year, and not because the book contains a series of shorts influenced by surrealists like Lui Bunuel, Max Ernst and Salvador Dali, and not because the stories shines its light on dense, interesting and uniquely realized personal universe in which the cartoonist sets his various stories. I think what makes this weird is that it shines best in the short stories, the one-pages and seemingly minor stories about the cartoonist and his difficulties in relating to everyday absurdities, while the longer stories with the deeper meditations, particularly a long silent dream-like story that concludes the work, fail to engage with as much skill. They touch on more obvious symbolism and easier to decipher narrative tricks, almost as if when the backdrop of relatable reality falls from view Max has to work doubly hard to mak an impression. Every story is pleasingly depicted in crisp lines and subtle contrasts in color and shading -- you'll likely be drawn to pick it up and look at it when you're doine reading -- and I imagine it could be easily argued that the longer works add more to the book as a cohesive whole. You'll still have a hard time telling me the encounter with St. Ceremonio in a bar on the subject of sloth was any less memorable than an encounter with St. Patience on an undefined plane on the subject of reality and perception.