Saturday, April 17, 2021

Gary Panther’s jagged, shape-shifting antihero was made for our moment


“Meet Gary Panter,” reads a 1988 advertisement in The Village Voice in support of an appearance for a bookstore JIMBO: Entrance into Paradise. The buff title character, cross-eyed and crew-cut, resembles a rude Billy Idol so that rugby can take the pitch. “This is an avant-garde adult comic book, about the adventures of a punk Everyman who defines his generation,” the text claims. “Come for a signed copy and meet a real comic book hero.”

The public was not cutting, alas: only one person showed up.

Advertisements and anecdotes appear in a new edition of Panter’s beautifully anarchic debut book (New York Review Comics, 103 pp., $ 29.95). They occupy the prolific position of comics as literature 30 years ago: while in advertising Jimbo Seithes, b. In the lower right corner, a picture of Dalton’s prime, bow-tied spokesman-neerad, call me “you can” under the motto, even though he was marking his turf. Jimbo looks ready to give him an alcoholic. The ad glosses over the thorny anomaly of Panther’s art with its jagged texture, cutup logic, and sizing antiho.

Panter was still a student at East Texas State University in the early 1970s when Jimbo was first written into a comic story he was writing. A few years later, the producer and creation met their moment in the Los Angeles punk scene. “Adventure in Paradise” was a decade in the making (1978–88), with parts originally appearing in the magazine Slash, The LA Reader and the seminal New York-based comics anthology “Raw”. Nicole Rudick’s excellent Afternoon described Painter as a visionary in the midst of a flood of movements, influences, proclamations (his own “Rose-Talks Manifesto,” originally published as advertisements, inspired inspiration in smoked-up capitalism Looking for) and artistic fellow travelers. (Later was Matt Groening: Jimbo’s close cropped hairdo would later inspire Bart Simpson).

For all the various inputs, Panter’s style is unique, even changing from page to page. There is a certain purity of un-self-sensitive work, he said in a 1985 interview, “close to the path, say, twigs fall on the pavement.” His signature “ratty line” – uneven, imaginary, creepy – is displayed everywhere even in the shape of his letters. In Dalit Tokyo City, their ruthless power bases the landscape in and around the time of the decay. (“I’m really in the trail,” Panther has said – a method of drawing that is all about “in some way close to being natural.”) In Phidomat, the Cronenberzian eye stalks telepathically take their command. (“Please I Want You.”); Chasing the scooting robot leads him to La Bufadora, a luxurious “skateboard-lifestyle” condo complex. One of the Bosch Estimimp Impact Crater (not far from the Fat BBQ UFO clinic) The concert is similar to “Where’s Waldo”, set in Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights”.

The book illustrates a coherent story line, and Jimbo is in turn a cipher, philosopher, lover, and brawler. His presence at times results in inferiority and imprudence, then he replaces the nightmare as the primitive “Jimbo Youzus”. Our real-world trails find their way to Daal Tokyo, including a Burger King receipt, stuck in amber like a fly. The witty metaphorical moments abound: Jimbo blithely devours the comic strip “Nancy” with only Ernie Bushmiller’s eternal creation framing him.

All of Jimbo’s concerns come to a head in Bravura’s final segment, as black and white give way to a sea-blue palette. It begins like the worst nightmare in history: Jimbo has to defuse a thermonuclear device, a task he is trying to do. The following is a steady parade of mayhem and madness. The earlier characters go through terrible distractions; Desperate text creeps into the gutter. We see Jimbo straighten out for the last time, but engulfed in agony, a St. Sebastian for the nuclear age, the tip of the Neon Orange destroying the page. It is haunting the retina level. The last words are “and the sun is gone” – looks like a comma, not a period. The punctuation takes you back to the beginning, where Jimbo asks, “Have you ever had a dream where you knew you were dreaming, but it was so real that you didn’t trust your decision?” It is an exquisite loop, a perfect solution to this monument of disorder.

Jimbo has acted in two other painter books, but absent from his latest, crash pad (Fantrifix, 36 pp., $ 39.95), a distant misdemeanor involving anthropomorphized dogs, a UFO and 2,000 tabs of acid. If Painter drew inspiration from Punk’s energy, his ethos was created by “hippie optimism” and the leading literature of “Cacti and Successful Handbooks” from Zap Comics. “Crashpad” closes with an eight-page throat clearing, filled with gongs (“no associated vision, however glorious, a prisoner is needed”) and a group of psychedelic images. A lot of it goes a long way, but it serves as the set-and-setting for laid-back and psychotic Little Story, which follows, in which a tripping pack of hippie-dogs (R. Fumble) Vague face recalling Kee Fritz) cat) is chased by a speedy sheriff. This creates a cosmic joke that I had not seen coming – I have not liked it since Nozaga IV.

Brilliantly, “Crashpad” comes in two formats, packaged together: a regulation-size, staple comic book that slides inside a pocket on the endpapers of a neatly constructed artist’s version inside a cover Is, with gold foil on its cover, which reproduces the original artwork. Its filled, unshaped. The story works better on a more intimate scale, and on one level, a $ 40 entry fee to watch on a vulgar but lesser work pornography. If we set aside the blasphemous notion of a money grab, however, a certain stoner argues to exclude both at the same time: immediately elevating the Ramshakal imaginary to a sacred text.

A bit amazed, I found a better explanation in the first line of Painter’s Preface: “In a digital world, it can be important to involve yourself with dirt.” We live in a time of technological science, when a lot of comics are made, at least partially, on tablets: colors change easily, everything turns into airtight, “handwriting” fonts. It can be really important to see the dirt, scars, the artist’s true hands and deep nature. Publishing all of these pages in their oversized glory reveals the human elevation of their unspeakable skies, the occasional marginal, faint pencil that often appears beneath the figures.

I think this is a romantic scene of cartooning, written by a non-artist. And I know that many of the best artists swear by the latest drafting technique. But it is always good to be reminded that there are other ways. That anyone can draw or write with a pencil. The twigs on the sidewalk may be telling a story worth watching.



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