Stranski by Lorenzo Etherington
As well as drawing a couple of extra projects along side Slang Pictorial I've also started doing a bit more writing lately. It's all been comics criticism as opposed to scripting stories but it feels good to be able to stretch those muscles again. The latest thing I finished was a short appreciation of a phenomenal book that I recently backed on Kickstarter, and which will be appearing in a forthcoming issue of PanelxPanel. For now tho, you can read my capsule review here for what is undoubtedly a contender for my Book-Of-The-Year:
Lorenzo Etherington's "Stranski", an appreciation by Nick Prolix
The French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss coined the term bricolage to describe the combinatorial ingenuity of folk cultures for re-purposing the found materials at hand in new and unforeseen ways. Think of the street art sold by West African craftspeople who fashion toy cars from recycled Coke cans and think also of the glorious mash-ups that make up the cargo-cult aesthetic that is Lorenzo Etherington’s South Seas fantasia, Stranski, his first self-published hardcover art book.
The conceit of the book is that it is a collection of fictional ephemera, an art book showcasing what remains of the concept art, production stills and merchandising mock-ups that once accompanied the creation of a long-since lost, animated feature. Every imaginary building, vehicle and costume design in the anthropomorphic world of Stranski is a hodge-podge assemblage of WWII army surplus, tiki carvings, and pop surrealism, the devious improvisation of a Wile E. Coyote death-trap held together with belt-straps, jungle vines and hoodoo markings all rendered in gorgeous four-colour process and delineated with Lorenzo’s impeccable line and a true aficionado’s eye for retro design.
The genius of Stranski is Lorenzo’s mastery of the bricoleur’s art, both in his melding of different influences and disparate styles - from the gorgeous line work of a Lee Elias to the lolloping cartooning and lush jungle-scapes of Franquin - into something utterly surprising and new, but equally it is in his understanding that just as important as what you put in, is what you leave out. By not giving you all the answers, Stranski does what all great art promises, it leaves just enough of an imaginary space for the reader to dive headfirst and fill in those gaps for herself.