Severin, Severin

1.

“My way of telling stories is so remote from tradition that young artists – rightly, I confess – choose other models.  I have no desire to serve as a model.  My universe is truly my own.”~Guido Crepax, quote from the introduction to the Evergreen Edition of Bianca, Emmanuelle, and Venus in Furs

I like this quote because I think it speaks to the degree to which, even when he was adapting work the world he creates with his pen is solely his own—he’s not trying to copy anyone—he’s speaking his own language, creating his own unique universes.

The other thing is that I would definitely consider myself as a student in his school.  I’m fairly obsessed with picking apart what he does—and that comes across in how my comics read.  Especially so the last say 15 pages I’ve penciled—which I haven’t gotten to show a lot of—but I would definitely describe them as me working with the lessons I’ve learned from studying Crepax.

The page above is from Anita Live—which is in my opinion the best colored Crepax work.  I own the physical copy of that, and it’s pretty big pages—and really beautiful.  Beyond the composition of his pages—one of the things I love about Anita Live and Emmanuelle is how long and languid his characters are.  That’s not always the case in work like Bianca, Valentina, Story of O and work like that—but Anita and Emmanuelle have these sort of stretched out long bodies which I really like.  I think you can see the advantage of it in the next to last panel on this page—where you can sort of feel a stretching of the figure, which is I think a kind of erotic tension also present in Schiele.

2.

“Many people dislike the erotic aspect of his stories because it seems cold to them.  The fact is, Guido is a voyeur by nature.  He likes to represent erotic scenes without identifying with those he portrays.  There are artists in this field who do much more to stimulate the reader’s imagination.”~Luisa Crepax,

(Paolo Caneppele and Gunter Krenn. Three Women: Bianca, Emmanuelle, Venus in Furs. Emmanuelle, Bianca, and Venus in Furs. By Guido Crepax.Germany: Evergreen Press, 2000. Print)
This speaks to something I talked about when I wrote about Bianca for Comicsalliance — there is a detachment in most of the eroticism of Crepax(I say most, because I think works like Emmanuelle are very directly erotic—and almost highlight how much Crepax hangs back in other work) where his focus as the artist is not getting off on what he is drawing—or that is not how it is presented to the reader.  Rather, his focus is on form, technique, and storytelling—and he explores those elements almost fatalistically.  In that way, a work like Bianca isn’t really successful as pornography—but it is in a sense comic porn—like if what gets you off is seeing someone push and pull the medium itself.

This distance is how he is different from someone like Manara.  Not better or worse.  Just different.

This distance is also one of the things that drew me into his work so much, because my own relationship to eroticism is very detatched, and I think I tend to be more interested in the aesthetics of the artwork associated with it—than I would ever really get off on it.  I’ve said elsewhere/before that what interests me about erotic art is the blurry boundries between erotic art and surreal horror—I am very interested in the way that that narrative can sublimate into lower miracles in the subconscious.  I’m not interested really in character A is like x,y, and z, and does this in the third act, blah blah blah progression—I’m interested in how if character A is shown this way in these sequences, it almost hypnotizes the viewer into a dreamlike state whereby the boundries of storytelling sort of float away—and it becomes like a looped, dragged song—and you sort of haze into this really affecting atmospheric place.

I am interested in the steps toward creating the sublime.  I am not interested whatsoever in plot points, character growth, or any of the other million things that so many critics and creators have decided is important in this day and age.  That I am ever interested in those things—is the way they can work in service of the creation of the sublime.

I don’t care particularly about who does what in Tarkovsky’s Mirror.  Only that magical feeling you get as you move through that wooden house and see that house on fire, as if in a dream.

I feel that Crepax, particularly in Bianca creates rhythms that are important in this direction.  Getting to finally read Bianca in English I am convinced more than ever of Crepax’s utility in this direction.

The above page is from Bianca.

3.

“What I like about ‘Bianca’ is the unrealistic structure I have given her stories.  Compared to Valentina, whose adventures belong to a particular reality(so real she even has an identity card), I had fun making Bianca a completely free character.  She has no profession; she could perhaps, be a student.  I created her to give myself a little more freedom[…] The structure of the Bianca stories is not homogenous, there is no real beginning and no real end.  Without ever intending it, it eventually became a big book.  I just made image after image, put them one after another, and all of a sudden I had some two hundred pages”~ Guido Crepax on Bianca

(Paolo Caneppele and Gunter Krenn. Three Women: Bianca, Emmanuelle, Venus in Furs. Emmanuelle, Bianca, and Venus in Furs. By Guido Crepax.Germany: Evergreen Press, 2000. Print)

This probably speaks a lot to my adoration of the Bianca stories—because they are the primacy of the image and the sequence.  And it is in these stories that I think Crepax is at his best—because I think that at his core, that is what he is best at conveying his passion for.  His strengths in rhythm, paneling, and form are most allowed to run around to their logical endpoints in Bianca—where in other works, he is perhaps constrained somewhat.  I find that when I read Valentina, that is my criticism of it—that in some ways, she participates in adventures—that I am not really that certain matter—but because of the rigidity of that world, there is a linearity that in parts of Valentina she has to adhere to.  Now that is not always the case.  There are sections of Valentina that are very much like Bianca in how they transition seamlessly through different narrative tracks.

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