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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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05/12/2005 Archived Entry: "Book review: Stickleback"

By Graham Annable
Published by Alternative Comics
48 pages, $6.95
ISBN: 1891867806

Reviewed by Jane Seaton

An author has a problem with visual arts. In a conventional novel or short story, if a work of art is key to the narrative, the reader must also be some kind of creative genius. The author may describe the work, and then use his characters to pronounce it good, but ultimately, he has little control over the photofit in the mind of the reader.

So just as the graphic novelist enjoys more control over the appearance of his characters and his locations, he also has a natural advantage when he's dealing with the visual arts. He can put the artist's work right there on the page for the readers to make their own judgement, to form their own emotional reaction. It doesn't have to be entirely second hand. So what are we to make of the art George Stickleback creates in preparation for his forthcoming show? There is no question that the emoting homunculi he fashions out of toilet tissue and hair spray are 'art' in the eyes of their creator, but Annable's panels link these monochrome, low rent depictions of humanity into Stickleback's life in a way that suggests they don't so much transcend as transfix his marginal existence.

A supporting cast of critics, in varied guises, echo this reader's reaction to Stickleback's work. It's trivial, negligible, obsessive and doesn't earn him enough to pay for his own lemonade. So I guess it must be art.

All the same, I found myself rooting for the artist, and I'm convinced that even after the final catastrophe, Stickleback will make another cup of tea and get back to work.

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