Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Book-A-Day 2014 #146: Zoot Suite by Andrew & Roger Langridge

About a dozen days ago, I looked at the first major collaboration between the antipodean brothers Langridge, Art d'Ecco, as Day 133. It was an odd but bizarre series of stories about a small group of characters who almost seemed to be the Langridge Brothers equivalent of the commedia del'arte figures: never meant to be taken as real humans, but representative of types or humors or other broad categories of humanity. It hovered at the edge of understandability: clearly the product of a very individual imagination, but with a few points of congruence with prior works and consensus reality to ground it.

Zoot Suite, which collects an early-90s four-comic series, feels like purer Andrew Langridge, and is even less explicable or understandable. Most of the length of this book is taken up by an episodic story called The Journey Halfway, in which an unnamed man's car is taken away -- he assumes towed by his municipality, ahead of the actual no-parking deadline -- and that causes him to spiral through a series of odder and less-likely events, accompanied by a small friend and by a series of strange and demonstrative others. It's driven equally by surrealism and dream-logic -- each event seems to follow naturally from the ones before it, even when the narrative wanders completely out into no-man's-land.

Zoot Suite also has a number of shorter strips, some of which are also episodic. They tend to be quicker, simpler jokes -- though "simpler" is a relative thing with Andrew Langridge -- but they're jokes "about" aspects of the human condition, or modern life, or (maybe more than anything) about the words themselves. Andrew Langridge is a word-besotted writer: he loves the sound of words as much as their meaning, and loves even more mixing up the two and frothing up all of the words at his disposal into a souffle of witticisms and the slightest bit of matter.

Roger Langridge's art is lovely as ever: precise inky lines; amazingly evocative faces, both realistic and caricatured; and a marvelously centered sense of place, all in the service of his brother's seriously silly verbal leaps.

There's no getting around it: this is a deeply odd comic. But it's more great Roger Langridge art, for those who appreciate that, and the quirky brilliance of Andrew Langridge's neo-logorrheatic wordplay will find some fans as well. (Or has already; this book is nearly twenty years old.)

Book-A-Day 2014 Introduction and Index

No comments:

Post a Comment