This 364 page work records Igort's visits to the Ukraine and Russia towards the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, but the bulk of the work is devoted to retelling the tales of those he meets of their experiences in these countires during the 20th. More than one octogenarian is able to recall the horrifying days of the Stalin's enforced starvations during the 1930s as well as the equally barbaric incursions and depredations of the Nazis during the Second World War. Hearing these stories, one has to marvel that their tellers were able to survive that which they recount.. There is much more on hand here than this, of course, but it is those tales which are so outside of the experience of those who lived their lives here in the New World of the Americas that burn themselves strongest into the mind's eye. Igort, who will be known to many a Copacetic customer for his masterful work in Baobab, which was a part of the Ignatz line of graphic albums that he himself presided over, stretches out here and employs a wide range of expressive drawing, portraiture, illustration, and, of course, comics in recounting these many tales. We highly recommend this work to anyone ready, willing and able to learn more of how life was lived in the Old World on the other side of the Iron Curtain, even before the curtain had been drawn as well as after it had been taken down.
Here are the three latest issues in the ongoing Ignatz series of high quality comics that are co-produced by Italy's Coconino Press and America's Fantagraphics Books. Each is produced to the highest of standards: 32 magazine-size pages printed on heavy flat cream-colored stock with wrap-around French-flapped dustjackets. Niger and Baobab are printed in duo-tone and Reflections in Black & White. And, yes, the work presented here is uniformly worthy of the format, with Baobab, by Ignatz series editor Igort, being the clear standout -- a graphic tour de force that is one of the finest works on the market.
Introducing the Ignatz line -- new from Fantagraphics Books in conjunction with Coconino Press in Italy. This new, ongoing series is a joint publishing effort of Fantagraphics Books, Italy's Coconino Press and France's L'Association. The Ignatz series combines the focus on production values of the European graphic novel tradition -- superior grade, heavy interior stock, sharp duo-tone printing, full color wraparound dust jackets -- with the saddle stitched format and periodical release schedule of American comics, to forge a new hybrid with which to drive the medium forward at this time of globalization and artistic transition. Each is printed in duo-tone on high quality, heavy gauge, magazine size -- 8" x 11" -- cream stock and comes with a full color wrap-around, French-fold dust jacket. We applaud this encouraging development and wish it much success. The first three are now in stock: Baobab, Volume 1 by series editor, Igort, is a beautifully rendered tale of international mystery.
Written and drawn – and designed – by the Italian artist, Igort (translated into English by Jamie RIchards) and printed in Italy, Japanese Notebooks is a sumptuous visual feast. It is also, of course, much more. It is: an investigation of the personal forces that drive artists to create in general and to pursue the particular paths they do; an exploration of how their imaginations come to be possessed by specific images; a memoir of one particular artist's journey; and much else. Igort is one of the most accomplished comics makers currently working, and Japanese Notebooks is likely his most personal work yet, one that is apt to hold a particular appeal to other comics makers, as these two testimonials attest:
"As a graphic novelist, I obviously can't get enough of books about what it feels like to be a cartoonist, and this is a high point in that pantheon. Igort's memoir is a rich, complicated meditation on art, cultural infatuation and the seen versus the remembered. All told in a collage of words, images, diagrams, photographs, history, ideas, feelings – and most surprisingly – of conflict." – Chris Ware
"With evident enthusiasm, Japanese Notebooks describes an artist's journey to Japan, from Igort's arrival in 1991 with the preconceptions of an outsider to his discoveries both artistic and personal over many return encounters." – David Mazzucchelli