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posted March 2, 2010
Nobrow, softcover, 32 pages, 2009, $16.50
This was a limited release book from Nobrow Press that's also called Destination Abécéderia
in some mentions. The work from resurgent comics-maker Blexbolex has been around since 2007 in formats featuring a couple of the continental languages, books I think are basically sold out. This seems like one of those books that has already moved past the easily-available stage: you can still buy one from the publisher and I bet it would turn up in some of the elite 75 comic book store if you were to go looking, but in general, forget it. Abécéderia
fits squarely into what little I know of the Nobrow line -- projects that favor a silk-screened look and that are at least formally aware if not outright challenging in that way. They look like one of those publishers where it would be the greatest table to stumble across in a convention hall, but that you also wouldn't be 100 percent surprised to see their material on a shelf in a strange retailer in a nearly abandoned mall. The idea of such comics almost overwhelms the paper they're printed on.
talls the story of two criminal brothers, Leon and Bernard Blanchet, as they hide out from their "biggest job" in the jungle colony of Abécéderia and its neighboring area Katagonia. The story is old-school science fiction of the isolated horrors variety, and the brothers find themselves mostly at the mercy of its experiments, rigid control mechanism and dark secret, after which they must survive the place's destruction. This is told in text below single images that correspond to letters of the alphabet ("abecederia" I believe refers to the organizing principle of alphabetizing something strictly, although it could be a made-up word), and the weakness to this occasionally beautiful work from my reading of it is that it was hard to imprint upon the reading experience something deeper than an arbitrary choice facilitated with a great deal of cleverness. The closest I got was the evocation of a sort of bewildering series of events, a way to place structure and form over something that resists it wholeheartedly, a graphic representations of a clash between seen and unseen. That said, it is really pretty, and visually inventive, and something at which I think a lot of artists will want to stop and stare. The text even works although -- or perhaps because? -- so little is asked of it. I was much more satisfied at its ending than I thought I would be. Like the gangster that stays behind, I took a turn back into the work to see if I could understand a little bit more of it as it unfolded.