Friday, Dec. 17, 2004

Kramer's Ergot No. 5 Edited by Sammy Harkham

The other great anthology of the year, while just as lush and smartly edited as "McSweeney's" #13, focuses on comix' emerging talents with a few established artists thrown in for good measure. Editor Sammy Harkham boldly monumentalizes works that may otherwise have only ever known the inside of a sketchbook. He does this by reproducing the artwork on large, full color pages that accentuate the original source rather than try to smooth it out. Artists who use non-traditional materials — like the one who did a comic strip on a drinking straw wrapper — particularly benefit from this indulgence. Preserving the torn edges and cardboard bumps give many of the pages a striking three-dimensional texture. While experimental pieces abound, the book also provides plenty of top-notch narrative works, like Kevin Huizenga's intelligent, thoughtful portrait of a conservative Christian encountering a non-believer. "Kramer's Ergot" #5 establishes the annual series as comix' premier showcase for new talent, as well as one the best-looking books of the year. TIME.comix: The Year of the Anthology (Nov. 24, 2004)