Sunday, November 29, 2009

Review: All and Sundry

All and Sundry: Uncollected Work 2004-2009, by Paul Hornschemeier, 2009, Fantagraphics Books, 207 pages, $29.99

Here is an easy test to determine if you might be interested in buying this book. Are you:
  1. A graduate student writing his or her thesis on the work of Paul Hornschemeier.
  2. A member of Paul Hornschemeier's immediate family.
  3. Paul Hornschemeier.
  4. Anybody else.
If your answer was 1, 2, and/or 3, go ahead and buy it. If your answer was 4, it's probably not worth your time or money.

All right, fine, that's kind of a harsh way to begin this review. Let me be clear that I liked parts of this collection of Hornschemeier's previously-uncollected work. But there simply wasn't enough meaty comics content to really sink my teeth into. And some parts of the book I just thought were boring or facile.

The first half of the book contains mostly "finished" work -- comics, art, and prose that has been published elsewhere -- while the second half is collects sketchbook-type stuff. The sketchbook half I particularly could have lived without -- it's mostly a bunch of not-completely finished portraits that isn't all that interesting. Although I did like this one (a portrait of Jonathan Lethem, one of Hornschemeier's collaborators on the terrific Omega the Unknown):

There were two pieces in the "finished" half of the book that I particularly enjoyed. First was a collection of several short (a few panels to a few pages) gag comics, originally published in Michael Chabon Presents The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, about a superhero named "The EscapeNot" who only feels comfortable when trapped in chains, ropes, or other binding material. There's not much to them, but they're pretty funny. Second was Huge Suit Among the People, a wordless fourteen-page story originally serialized as a weekly newspaper strip, about an enormous godlike being whose magic touch turns the life of the person touched to crap.

(click to enlarge)

It was playful, interesting, and well-constructed. Just a neat little tale.

Unfortunately, when it comes to actual comics, that's almost it. There's a couple of other very short comics, but the rest of the section is art (several music album covers, for instance), and a few prose short stories that I really didn't care for at all. They were fine, I guess, but really not something that I enjoyed or thought were particularly engaging.

I will say that the comics work in the book made me more interested in checking out Hornschemeier's longer-form works. He certainly is a talented artist, and his stories are both thoughtful and have a good sense of humor. Unfortunately, I can't recommend this book.

READ MORE: Here is a 12-page excerpt.

BUY IT: From Fantagraphics here or from Amazon here: All and Sundry: Uncollected Work 2004-2009

RELATED: My posts on other books published by Fantagraphics:
Disclaimer: Fantagraphics sent me this book.

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