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Bete Noire #1
posted June 14, 2005


Creators: David Heatley, Morgan Navarro, Valium, Yuichi Yokoyama, Junko Mizuno, Ichiba Daisuke, Takeshi Nemoto, Suzy Amakane, Renee French, Peter Kohler, Quentin Faucompre, Reijo Karkkainen, Nadia Raviscioni, F©+Witko, Caroline Sury, Fabio Viscogliosi, Helge Reumann, Frederic Coche, Ludovic Debeurme, Olaf Ladousse, Anke Feuchtenberger, MS Bastian, Lucie Durbiano, Kevin Scalzo.
Publishing Information: Fantagraphics, 96 pages, $9.95
Ordering Numbers:

Chris Polkki's alt-comix anthology, which looks like it was reconstituted out of the similar effort Blood Orange, seems to aspire to the stuff-everything-you-can-between-two-covers concept that in comics is probably a model more familiar to devours of corporate-backed group efforts and group fanzines than art books. To give credit where credt is due, the strategy almost works here, particularly with the advent of foreign cartoonists to Polkki's line-up giving him more to work with. Artists like Fabio Viscogliosi, Renee French and Junko Mizuno are really pleasing to the eye; coming across their work in any form is a pleasure. I could also see the anthology being a fine home for some cartoonists who tend not to work in longer or more ambitious fashion, such as one of this issue's color-featured artists, Kevin Scalzo. The cover by David Heatley, three more of which from the same artist will form a kind of themed poster, kills as well.

In the end, though, this anthology falls well short of a half-dozen better ones being done right now. I'm not sure Bete Noire would even make my top ten. None of the work stuck with me for half a minute after conclusion despite my being a fan of nearly every artist represented. I might think more of it if it were huge in size, so that there was some feeling of a tidal wave of graphic approaches, but as it is right now, it really feels like a island of works that couldn't get a job somewhere else.