New Finds

The Ghost in The Squirrel Machine

A new opus from the obscurantist Hans Rickheit.

Book Cover OK, first, my initial impression of cartoonist Hans Rickheit’s new book The Squirrel Machine (Fantagraphics) was one of amazement (a word I don’t bandy about indulgently) and bafflement. I am clear I am not grasping something—not an unpleasant feeling in this circumstance. But Rickheit doesn’t do much better when asked (see the short film, Hans Rickheit At Home), referring to Kafka and Bruno Schulz.

Then there is the publisher’s description:
Legendary obscurantist cartoonist Hans Rickheit’s most ambitious graphic novel to date. Exquisitely rendered, strange, and hauntingly beautiful, this evocative and enigmatic book will ensure the inquisitive reader a spleenful of cerebral serenity that will require vast quantities of mediocrity to banish from memory.
The book’s preface is a poem by Longfellow—I still don’t know why (something to do with storytelling?). And then it launches into “Suggestions for the Teacher.” Huh? Maybe this explains (maybe not):
At first glance, this work might appear to be descended from the traditions of Greek tragedy or the bitterly profane satire of 16th century social critic Pietro Aretino. But the negative implies a positive; satire and tragedy ultimately acknowledge humanity. You’ll find none of that here. Before you is the meticulous documentation of an inhuman process involving a series of changes. Plotting and character development are incidental elements put into play only as necessary to insure the proper placement & circumstance within that process.
The drawings are crisp and clean: five or six to a page, and as the story advances there are less and less text balloons. As usual for Fanatagraphics, this book is well-designed and well-printed. Let me know if you figure out what it’s about, though not knowing made it no less fun for me.
blog comments powered by Disqus