Ray Fenwick has pioneered his own medium of storytelling, one best described as "typographical comics." Hall of Best Knowledge is presented as a handsome, personal journal written by an unnamed voice, referred to only as "The Author." Little is known about him; he makes occasional, derogatory references to a twin brother and younger sibling, but reveals little else. He clearly fashions himself a genius, writing with a faux-aristocratic air, and it is presumably his belief in his own genius that leads him to want to share his knowledge with the world. Each page features information such as "It hardly needs mentioning that riding a pony is no intellectual triumph.... If riding a pony is so fantastic, why have I never read of any renowned pony-riding genius? It is because such a person does not exist, making it a foolish waste of time unworthy of attention." These pearls of wisdom are lettered in an elegant, almost obsessive fashion, entirely hand-crafted and bedecked with Ionic columns and fleurs-de-lis.
It becomes obvious to the reader early on that all is not as it seems; only at the end does the picture become completely clear. The ensuing journey is a riotous tour through the narrator's ego and id, and the humor builds accordingly as he is revealed to be not nearly as smart—or sophisticated—as he thinks.
Hall of Best Knowledge is part graphic novel, part art object, part satire, part puzzle. The slow unfolding of the author and his story builds humor with each page, creating a peculiar examination of the idea of genius and the problems that arise in the search and transmission of knowledge.
HOBK is an elegantly designed and packaged book, presented as a found journal, with a belly band and other production/design touches to further solidify and give form to the concept of the book.
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The second book from Ray Fenwick, author of 2008’s acclaimed Hall of Best Knowledge. In Mascots, a collection of impressionistic stories combine to create a wildly absurd — yet vaguely familiar — parallel world. Like Fenwick’s previous work, the acclaimed Hall of Best Knowledge (one of Booklist’s “Top Ten Graphic Novels of 2008”), Mascots is driven by lettering and language, part art and part comics, this time taking the form of bright, full color paintings on found book covers. These paintings can be experienced individually, each on their own terms, but together they reveal a surreal world that captures the mood of our times with manic energy.