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January 29, 2008


CR Review: Lust

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Creator: Ellen Forney
Publishing Information: Fantagraphics, hardcover, 168 pages, 2007, $19.95
Ordering Numbers: 978-1-56097-884-8

imageThis book confused me. It's kind of freakishly gorgeous, running about the size of an address book and boasting a cover that not only features a smart, straight-forward design, but is smooth to the touch in a way where I kept picking it up and putting it against my skin. I suppose that could be my personal kink, and if I were one of the dozens of people from whose personal ads in the alt-weekly The Stranger this book is drawn, that might be the subject of my advertisement. And that's where things get muddled. For as much as you're likely not interested that I'm holding the book up to my cheek, that's how I feel about the content of every ad drawn by Forney that makes it into this book. Despite the usual cute, hinted-at warnings on the back cover and in the introductory text, there's little that interests about other people's desires put into print advertisement form -- unless , I suppose, reading such utilitarian confessions is one of your things. An attempt to bolster that material with a few interviews and an introduction that sets those interviews up doesn't go deep enough in providing specific human insight into what people want or why they want it or why the rest of us should be interested.

The way Lust proves most interesting is as the journal of a long-time freelance assignment, Forney putting her pleasing art style to use in a way that provides enough visual versatility neither she nor her regular audience gets bored. It's not stunt work, either. For the most part, Forney is restricted to a space that shares at least the same proportion from illustration to illustration, and she very frequently works within the confines of a ruled square. Forney draws lively, happy figures that I imagine works as a kind of positive grace note on a request or desire where some people might disapprove. Her lettering's attractive here, too, which is important given the central role of the text. If you like Forney's other work, you'll want this; it's really just an art book with a thematic twist. If you're looking for some sort of dissection of personals writing or left coast sexuality circa 2007, it's really just an art book with a thematic twist.

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