BÊTE NOIRE: The International Comic Art Quarterly #1
EDITOR: Chris Polkki
96 pp., B&W with 8 color pages, $9.95
COVER: David Heatley
BÊTE NOIRE (subtitled The International Comic Art Quarterly) is an international version of editor Chris Polkki’s anthology comic, Blood Orange, which debuted last year from Fantagraphics Books, but this first issue of Bête Noire is also like a newsprint version of Monte Beauchamp’s long-running graphics design and illustrative arts anthology, Blab!. However, the emphasis here is less on the narrative novelties of the former and more on the graphic arts experimentation of the latter.
Cover artist, the American David Heatley begins the book with a nice little surreal fairytale nightmare that recalls Neil Gaiman. American Renee French, the exceptionally talented cartoonist whose work is ignored by at least 90 percent (if not 95) of the American comic book market, offers four pages of charcoal drawings – variations on a theme. My favorite piece is “Petites histoires d’amour: you look beautiful in red” by MS Bastian of Switzerland.
Some of the material I can only describe as weird or an exercise in graphic experimentation: Japanese cartoonists Yuichi Yokoyama, Junko Munzo, Ichiba Daisuke, and Takeshi Nemoto offer up a quartet of the strange, but intriguing comix. Quentin Faucompré’s “Shooting, fishing, nature and tradition” keeps me coming back asking questions.
Ultimately, Bête Noire is about curiosity pieces: vignettes, drawings, and illustrations that remind us what fertile ground comix, sequential art, and cartooning are. B