Sunday, December 9, 2007

Ord Ord Ord!

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Mandy Ord's graphic novel, Rooftops.

Rooftops is published by local independent publisher Finlay Lloyd - and much kudos to them for doing a brilliant production job and presenting Mandy's beautiful work so well. The book is in an unusual format - not quite as wide as the usual paperback - which allows it to fit nicely in your hand, almost giving it the feel of a guidebook. And in a way it is like a secret guide to the Melbourne CBD, where most of the story takes place. Mandy's one-eyed protagonist scoots past landmarks big and little, from under the ground to high up above the rooftops, and her inky brush lingers on wonderful architectural details, giving them a chunky black, texture-filled feel.

Mandy is, of course, the queen of the mostly-black image (for those unfamiliar with her work - imagine a sort of woodcut effect, but done with a brush), and in this book the space around the panels is black too - an effect which I love. Far from looking claustrophobic, busy or gothic, Mandy's work always jumps off the page fresh and engaging and full of life, and this is no exception. Great cream paper and lush printing means that the black is really black too. Mmmmm....

The story is a curious one, dancing around questions of coincidence and what we make of it. In his joyously theatrical launching speech, Mr Bernard Caleo described coincidences as "the knots that tie the universe together", and those mysterious tangles are at the heart of Mandy's book. Don't worry - it's not mystic mumbo jumbo (Mandy also illustrates for Australian Rationalist!) but more a musing on the mysteries of connectedness - especially connectedness of the imagination/intellect.

A large slab of the book involves conversations between Mandy and her buddy Greg. Greg is rendered so extraordinarily true to life, that I was actually quite distracted by the unnerving accuracy of the portrait. As a result, I feel like I missed some important nuances in these parts of the book. This is no reflection on Mandy's storytelling - rather a compliment on her ability to capture a person on the page. So I think I need to give the book a few more readings so that I take better note of what is going on in these sections. I'd be really interested to hear how others (who don't know Greg) read these parts of the book.

All in all - recommended! And exciting, both in its own right and as another manifestation of non-comic publishers in Australia embracing the graphic novel form. Yippee!

While on the subject of mega-talented Melbourne artists, I've recently been enjoying the gorgeous blog of designer and crafty lady Sandra Eterovic. Since Mr Campbell's blog is "resting" at the moment, I've lost my favourite regular blog read - but I think I've now found a replacement. Sandra posts lots of pictures of her beautiful illustration and other art projects (textiles, collage, paintings, sculptures, drawings etc) and takes us through a little of the process of making them, including lots of pics of the various source materials that have inspired her.

Fabulous. More, please!

1 comment:

spacedlaw said...

I miss Eddie too.
Thanks for the tip about Sandra Eterovic's blog. I quite enjoyed it.