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Ogner Stump’s One Thousand Sorrows
posted May 21, 2003

Creator: Andrew Goldfarb
Publishing Info: Wonderella Printed, $9
Ordering Numbers: 1585051314 (ISBN)

During my mid-1990s tenure as editor of this publication, I had the opportunity to see quite a few comic books drawn by people I believed to be mentally ill. In general they were bad comics and compelling art. One was so striking I harbored secret dreams of publishing it in graphic novel form; one other, a set of strips on notebook paper, I regret losing at least once a year. In his introduction to Ogner Stump's One Thousand Sorrows, Shannon Wheeler writes with tongue in cheek that cartoonist Andrew Goldfarb appeared quite normal in person, while Dame Darcy in her back-cover blurb seems to be equally lighthearted when she proclaims "You're so demented." Ironically, what the comics in this attractive, petite compilation tend to lack is the furious commitment to their own logic and point of view that even most sane artists achieve on a regular basis. There's something in Goldfarb's faux-Victorian presentation, and the numbering gimmick hinted at in the feature's title, that reads as precious and planned when rawness and looseness might serve the reader a little more effectively. If the visuals were stunning, or even lush and complex like Nurture the Devil-era Jessica Johnson, this wouldn't matter. But the art isn't quite evocative to the point these stories can stand alone as works of interest. In the best feature, "Mumbletoes," Goldfarb employs really simple line work to good effect in service of a long limerick about an oddball and his doings. But the heavy blacks on display through most of the book aren't nearly as attractive or interesting as the leaner work or even the occasional color portrait. Goldfarb's art is generally idiosyncratic and clean, and that it allows such permutations speaks well to the solidity of the approach. If this is the beginning of an attempt at finding a style, these Sorrow might turn interesting a couple hundred in; if this is a destination point, it's too near this side of the moon.