Named one of the best reprint/reissue comics of 2012 by Robot 6's Chris Mautner
By appropriating and subverting Tintin creator Hergés classic clear line style, Joost Swarte revitalized European alternative comics in the 1970s with a series of satirical, musically elegant, supremely beautifully drawn short stories often featuring his innocent, magnificently-quiffed Jopo de Pojo, or his orotund scientist character, Anton Makassar.
Under Swartes own exacting supervision, Is That All There Is? collects virtually all of his alternative comics work from 1972 to date, including the RAW magazine stories that brought him fame among American comics aficionados in the 1980s. Especially great pains have been taken to match Swartes superb coloring, which includes stories executed in watercolor, comics printed in retro duotones, fiendishly clever use of Zip-a-Tone screens, and much more. (Theres even a story about how to color comics art using those screens, with Makassar as the teacher.)
Other noteworthy stories include Swartes take on an episode from Hergés early days, a Fats Domino story, a tribute to the legendary Upside-Downs strip, and a story titled simply Modern Art.
Ive loved Joost Swartes perfect cartoons, drawings and designs for decades and its nothing short of ridiculous that a comprehensive edition of this brilliant artists work has never been available in America until now. Swarte is considered a national treasure in his native Holland, and if you open this book, youll understand why. Chris Ware
18-page excerpt (download 4.3 MB PDF):
Video & Photo Slideshow Preview (view in new window):
"In the early 70s, when American underground-comic artists like R. Crumb were drawing subversive stories in styles derived from the comic strips they grew up with, Dutch cartoonist Swarte was similarly warping the graphic approach of Europes most famous comics artist, Tintin creator Hergé. It was Swarte who coined the term ligne claire, or 'clear line,' for the distinctive, meticulous style marked by the use of unvarying, evenly inked lines. Swarte applied that technique to significantly more grown-up fare than Hergés rousing adventure tales, as shown in this collection of nearly all of his adult comics work, much of it featuring Jopo de Pojo, an oversized naïf with a Tintinesque quiff, and the pompous intellectual Anton Makassar. Some are globe-spanning escapades that are clearly inspired by Tintins exploits, albeit with sex, drugs, and gore; others are shorter satirical or humorous pieces. Since the main attraction is Swartes alluring visuals, a larger page size would have showcased the intricate illustrations to better advantage; but considering the previous unavailability of his work in English translation, thats an ungrateful quibble." Gordon Flagg, Booklist