Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

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It comes out once a year, it's edited by a French dude, and it has featured new work by Mark Ryden and Joe Coleman and Gary Panter. It looks and feels like raw rock and roll on paper — rock, and maybe free jazz and skronk that comes out in line drawings and autobiographical tall-tales, and Dadaist dream-rants, and found art, and color, color, color.

Blab! #16 is my favorite issue yet of the oversized, thick, often barely understandable anthology. It features gorgeous front and back paintings by Tim Biskup (that look as if be-bop album cover art never died), a bio of Veronica Lake by design genius Sue Cole, six exquisitely-rendered bios of eclectic and bizarre jazz musicians by Hoey and Freund (worth the twenty bucks this costs alone), genuinely disturbing Freudian tales by Paco Alcazar and Marc Rosenthal, the return of Fetal Elvis by Mark Landman, and ghetto-verisimilitude by counter-culture underground legend Spain, one of the founders of adult comix. This issue seems particularly strong in both the surrealist elements and the more tangible storytelling.

All elements of the comic art underground are represented beautifully, especially because of the size of Blab!, but if a criticism is to be made, it’s that if you’re a particularly strong devotee of a certain style — outsider art, linear stories, autobio tales — there may not be enough of what you like to wholly endorse it.

Blab! always leaves me feeling both awed and somehow underwhelmed, as incredibly evocative images from nightmare international visions and old product labels burst forth off the enormous pages – but I hunger for more work like Hoey and Freund's, experimental yet utilitarian. Call me an idiotic American, or call me a guy whose friends have too little table space to afford any more coffee table books. However, I think the sort of inchoate dynamic tension between evocation and entertainment Blab! attempts is a worthy cause, and Beauchamp seems to be getting better at pitting.