Derik Badman's Journal

2020-08-15 13:09

I reread Yoshiharu Tsuge's The Swamp, a new volume 1 (of 7) of his complete "mature" works, by which they mean they skip the very early stories. This one though, like many first volumes of artist's chronological work, is still not exactly all work that feels mature and successful. It's telling that a review I read the other day only mentioned two of the stories by name, as those are also, to me, the ones that are most successful and interesting: "The Swamp" and "Chippy". Both, oddly, feature a couple, an animal, and the animal acting as a kind of intermediary and symbol. They are a bit mysterious and a bit ambiguous and for that allow a more open reading. The other stories in the book feel more straightforward and often a little goofy or too stuck in genre tropes. I'm looking forward to future volume as I think they will become more interesting as time goes on. Tsuge's The Man Without Talent, his later book-length comic is excellent enough that I know he will get much better.

I've been reading, well mostly looking at, a book of Francesca Woodman's photography I got used this past week, On Being an Angel. The not too long opening text pieces, one biographical and contextual, the other more impressionistic description, do good work in opening up the reader to looking at the photographs that follow. On first glass it can be easy to see a kind of cliche in Woodman's work because it feels so similar to tons of photographs made by young female photography students that I've seen, but I think that speaks more to her influence and daring in what she did, back in the late 70s (she died in the early 80s when she was still in her early 20s) and how much it carried forward to the 90s (when I was a student). A lot of her work seems to make use of limited materials and settings, tons of work in what appears to be rundown buildings, mostly self-portraits and limited objects. She worked in series a lot, often in ways that seem reminiscent of Duane Michals comics-like sequences, though Woodman's are less narratively clear. The introduction mentions Deborah Turbeville as an inspiration, which I think I should have realized on my own, as I am a big fan of her series/sequence work too.