The Late Child and Other Animals / L’Enfant inattendue

The Late Child and Other Animals Cover

 Written and colored by Marguerite Van Cook and adapted and drawn by James Romberger The Late Child and Other Animals, an original hardcover 180 page graphic auto/biography was released in November 2014 by Fantagraphics Books. See the video clip for a look inside the book.

The Late Child and Other Animals shares the features that made Marguerite Van Cook and James Romberger’s collaboration with David Wojnarowicz such a success: the lush color, the creative visual mapping of a psychic landscape. The hallmarks of this remarkable writer-artist team are intensified in this loose, often lovely, personal coming-of-age narrative, haunted by a dark undercurrent, that focuses on Van Cook and her mother.” – Hillary Chute, author of Outside the Box: Interviews with Contemporary Cartoonists

“The stories in The Late Child and Other Animals are beautiful haunts, the stories that were never told and have returned, fully alive and tense with implication. The stories are the intersection of a national history and the exquisitely drawn inner life of the late child herself, Marguerite. The world Van Cook and Romberger recreate is unsafe, unfolding, and shot through with joy.” – Amy Benson, author of The Sparkling-Eyed Boy

“Overwhelming, my first encounter with a graphic gathering of stories: I devoured them all in a huge gulp, from the detailed delights of fields and flowers to the fearsome tale of man and girl. Everything feels so very alive in these pages, words and colors and line!” – Mary Ann Caws, author of The Surrealist Look: An Erotics of Encounter, Surprised in Translation, and The Modern Art Cookbook

“This breathtaking auto/biography traces the life path of a mother, and then her daughter, as it weaves together fragments of each woman’s memories to form a careful mosaic. The images and accompanying text together reflect a unique and powerful lyricism, one that captures everything from the aftermath of a grisly, war-torn landscape to youthful friendship blossoming on the Coast of Normandy.  Reading The Late Child and Other Animals, one experiences how poetic the graphic novel form can be, how memories rendered through sharp lines, soft watercolors, and penetrating narrative prose can immerse you in worlds far, far away.” – Tahneer Oksman, author of Mourning the Family Album

“The Late Child and Other Animals is a deeply moving graphic memoir of motherhood and childhood, of the horrors of World War II and the terrors of family court; of the bliss of country vacations and the fear of being stalked. It’s a gorgeously drawn and deeply personally written collaboration between Marguerite Van Cook and James Romberger, the New York artistic couple who produced the powerful 7 Miles a Second. The Late Child is a rich and intelligent work, one of the lushest and most giving graphic novels in recent memory.”–Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin

“Marguerite Van Cook is a legendary punk diva and award-winning poet whose knack for characters and prose will hit you straight in the heart. James Romberger’s art comes straight from the gut with wavering brushwork, emotive coloring and a deeply personal line… an explosive combo.”
– Bart Croonenborghs, Broken Frontier

” Yet, so sublime is the telling in its subtle interplay of perspectives—visual, vocal, lucidly ludic—that to deny these creators’ willful intent to invite our active rumination through its ample provision of entry—and departure—points would be selling them short. The Late Child and Other Animals breaks fresh ground for alternative ways to retrace the past; opens one up to the interplay of parallel lives.” Norman Douglas, Sensitive Skin Magazine

“Romberger’s style is a wonder of optical and dramatic economy, reminiscent of illustration in the leading modes of the mid-20th-century period the book portrays — loose and sketchy to convey the forward velocity and succinct sophistication of the West’s self-image, charming in its simplicity and assured in its catalogue of abbreviated emotions, encyclopedic in its observation of the abundant urban and country environments while ambitious in its formal experimentation and interpretive shadings…
Van Cook is a master of writing in displaced time, inhabiting the limited perspective of a moment in her life with utter vivid conviction while observing its meaning with the insight of contemporary context.” Adam McGovern, Fanchild.

“Written and colored by Marguerite Van Cook with art by her husband James
Romberger, this graphic memoir immediately grabs the reader with a
haunting opening sequence showing Van Cook’s mother and sister as they
survey the wreckage of their freshly bombed town. The book never loosens
its grip as the years pass and the story moves away from that
devastated urban environment.” Oliver Sava. The Onion AV Club

“Van Cook’s voice throughout is measured but piercing, and her colours
resplendent and flush, while cartoonist James Romberger adapts her
stories into kinetic and furiously imaginative compositions.” Sean Rogers, The Globe and Mail

“Marguerite Van Cook’s semi-autobiography The Late Child and Other Animals offers a stunningly beautiful glimpse of her life…The imagery is powerful on its own merit, but it’s merely one part of a story that is as poignant as it is charming.” Cody Ray Shafer, Under the Radar.

“Sensuous, philosophical, full of life, Van Cook’s voice wraps around Romberger’s art to create a whole, multifaceted experience that not only tells you what an experience was like, but helps you feel it.” John Seven

“In all, this is a quite extraordinary piece of work. It sweeps us flawlessly along from a hillside above Portsmouth burning in the Blitz to a Parisian café terrace at the end of the turbulent ’60s. Wonderfully conceived and skillfully executed, it holds its own both as literary and as graphic art.” Glenn Harcourt. Artillery Magazine.

See our News page for more recent reviews.

 L’Enfant inattendue  translated by Emilie and Barbara Lehin into French
 will be released in September 2014 by Editions çà et là.
L'Enfant inattendue cover



Oneness Revisited

blossomsmallOneness Revisited 2010

The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.  ~Tennessee Williams


These works speak to the multifaceted sublimity of nature. This series owes much to Barnett Newman as I  borrow his use of the famously termed “zip,” the strip of color that runs vertically through his often monochromatic paintings, which he believed offered a passage into the realms of the sublime or the limits of rationality.  In my work  the “zip” reveals the complexities that proliferate from the apparently simplest flowers to reveal the boundlessness of color, structural complexity, and the hidden. The flowers are photographed in my urban garden.

 Prints  48″ by 36 “.


Candelabra  Marguerite Van Cook


StarlilysRose Zip

Genetic Portraits: Products of Immortality.

This show opened the night before the World Trade attack of 911. Consequently, in wake of the tragedy it was received in unexpected ways. People came into the gallery which was just above Houston Street, just slightly outside the worst hit zone, to commiserate and to cry.  Ironic since the show was about preserving memory and the problems of storing ones genetic data for sale.

 Each image was part of a grouping that offered not only the portrait but the subjects molecular structure. It also included a DNA analysis for future recreation. This was placed into clay pots.

 I chose people from amongst my friends and peers for my subjects .

 I  wanted to show elements of their vocations, visual clues to assist in their recreation down the road. Hence my ballerina is depicted in a romantic pose.

The Herald was fun to paint because it simply represents a young man in his prime and I enjoyed the historicity of his pose which contrasts the post modern ubiquity of blue jeans with the classic quality of his pose.

 The Herald may be viewed at a larger scale

My Band The Innocents on the “Sort It Out Tour” with The Clash and The Slits.

My band the Innocents  on Tour with the Clash
My band the Innocents on Tour with the Clash


My band The Innocents opened for The Clash with The Slits, some times alone;

 we  did a total of thirty six dates with one day off.

Marguerite Van Cook Clash Tour Lyceum 78 Innocents

The image below is on tour and features Sarah Hall on bass ( left) and myself (on the right),


Later,  I joined “Steppin Razor” an all girl reggae bans who toured the mid west and played at  Harlem World in opening for Yellowman. (I played bass ) .

Then back as a front person for Grade A, who played in New York and Belgium, with James Romberger pictured here (below) and Greg Van Cook on guitar.

Marguerite Van Cook and James Romberger Grade A

I’ll post more about this  later. Still love the Clash and the Slits.


“7 Miles a Second” by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook.


7 Miles a Second“7 Miles a Second’,  a collaborative project, is finally presented as it was intended with additional pages and the color restored from it’s watercolor originals.

A new soft cover edition is available from Ground Zero Books.

Buy it now:

“7 Miles a Second” has been getting a good response, particularly gratifying is its arrival at number 5 on the New York Times Best Sellers Hardcover Graphic Book List

Articles and Press for “7 Miles a Second” :

New York Times Art Beat has a short but welcome commentary.

Band of Thebes Wojnarowicz Life Story in Graphic Memoir ‘7 Miles a Second’

 X-TRA Escape Velocity by Glen Harcourt

Slate Book Review High Brow Trash by Noah Berlatsky

Sorry, Katari  7 Miles a Second by Katari Sporrong

Hyperallergic Inside David Wojnarowicz’s Comic Book by Jillian Steinhauer

Artforum James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook by Nicole Rudick

News 1.  The Book Reader by Dan Kois -State

L’Accoudoir   Spirale et 7 Miles a Second by Mikaël Demets (French text).

Post York by James Romberger and Crosby Updates: Nominated for an Eisner Award


Exiting News & Congratulations to them:

Post York is a 2013 Eisner Award nominee, Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)

Here are links to some of the great press the project has received and information about their performances and presentations :

“‘Post York’…offers a vision of a very changed city where life can be cruel and tenuous but also offers infinite possibilities of joys and transcendence.”
-Alex Dueben, Comic Book Resources
“….an interesting and even brave approach to storytelling….”
-Rob Clough, High-Low


“…the seemingly effortless, skritch-scratchy hand of Romberger makes (Post York) appear alive and hauntingly beautiful. His kinetic brush strokes and heavy use of black recall both Kirby and classic adventure comics….Crosby’s music adds to the narrative and feeling….”
-Jess Worby, The Rumpus


“…one of the best small press books I read this year. Post York is an utterly recommendable work. Grade A.”
-Justin Giampaoli, Thirteen Minutes


“(Romberger’s) stark black and white drawings render the future with bleakness that’s strangely coupled with a scrappy quality that exudes a sense of discovery…(Crosby’s) flexi-disc…serves as both a prelude and soundtrack that heightens the reading experience and adds an audio urgency to the story.”
-John Seven, Grawlix and Briffits


The slide show and Crosby’s live performance of Post York have so far played at:

Desert Island, Brooklyn (12/07/2012):

The Moon, Union Pool, Brooklyn (12/21/2012):

Ben Katchor’s New York Comics & Picture-story Symposium, Parson’s/The New School (1/25/2013):

Bob Sikoryak’s Carousel, Dixon Place, NYC (04/10/2013):


Post York, a beautiful graphic novel by James Romberger together with ideas and music with Crosby  offered in the form of a flexi disc in the back seam of the book , and available for free download online, are available from Uncivilized Press. (And in the spirit of full disclosure it is the work of  my husband and my son.)

Post York
Art & Story by James Romberger
Music by Crosby

$9, 40 pages, perfect bound, 8×11 inches

includes Flexi Disc by Crosby
Post York is a multimedia project that takes the form of a comic book with a musical flexidisc attached. The story is set in New York City after the polar ice caps melt. A young man navigates the flooded city, looking for something, anything, anyone…to start again.

The comic book by James Romberger takes a postmodern turn as it uses improvisatory cinematic techniques to make the reader a focus group for a pair of alternative endings. The song by Crosby extends the story into another medium to add deeper emotional resonance.

Flexi disc

James Romberger’s acclaimed graphic novels include 7 Miles a Second (a new edition is due in December 2012 from Fantagraphics) with legendary artist and AIDS activist David Wojnarowicz and artist and punk diva Marguerite Van Cook, and Aaron and Ahmed (DC/Vertigo, 2010), with Guggenhiem fellow Jay Cantor. The main character of Post York is modeled on James’ son Crosby, the MC behind Hip Hop Howl of SXSW fame and a prolific designer for Swizz Beatz. Crosby provides the back cover collage as well as the song on the flexidisc, which features production by Kidde and also a special appearance by singer Jordan Lane.

Music and comics meet as two generations of artists come together to propel a moving vision of a post-apocalyptic world. Step aboard and try to stay dry.

Praise for James Romberger:

“In the highest horror-comics tradition.”—The New York Times

“As sweet and perfect as an Old Master, but with a contemporary edge that sends shivers up your spine. Romberger makes his world come alive.”—Walter Robinson, critic for Art in America and Artnet

“Romberger’s art is a fine version of bony realism – his figures are so casually realistic, you can almost see the joints moving.”—Entertainment Weekly

Praise for Crosby:

“Real talent.”—Swizz Beatz

“MC who has rocked with anyone and everyone to ever touch the Bowery.”—URB Magazine

“Crosby’s unique musical lane, thoughtful and experimental.”—Birthplace Magazine

At  The Moon Show, Crosby performed in front of a slide show from the book. The effect was stunning as Crosby did his inimitable thing.Crosby Performs in front of Post York Image_b

The Postmodern Sublime–a Different Kind of Crazy.

From the Modern to the Postmodern Sublime.

There is no exact historic event to say when the modern ended or when the postmodern began. Even though World War I & II were certainly sublime in their scope, neither was the singular marker of transition. The transition happened more gradually as the individual neurosis of the modern gave way to the communal psychosis of the postmodern. However, what seems to be a constant is that comic artists have been there to comment on the types of madness that define those moments of change.

Ben Katchor’s Julius Knipl embodies the man who does not know where time and history begin and end, as he moves with a detached but detailed interest in his urban and banal surroundings. Katchor’s strangely anachronistic images offer a quirky and disturbing response away from the angst ridden narratives of the high moderns. Knipl is a photographer. He is in the business of making images. He reproduces the real with his camera. He looks and collects information about things that are in transition. He watches the people who engage in the remnants of a mechanically driven culture. Knipl’s is a gentle malady that draws one into a world without affect; a symptom of the postmodern condition.

Julius Knipfl Real Estate Photographer.

After the wars, we tried to respond to the events of the recent past through the insufficient lens of the modern. Great thinkers and artists struggled to make sense of the human condition. They were neurotic, introspective, singular and alienated from society; they were outsiders. (The immediate problem with their strategy going forward was that we couldn’t all be on the outside.)

Mark Newgarden lampoons those great modern thinkers, Beckett, Joyce and Proust with his irreverent inclusion of “Mel.” His take offers a final ironic backwards wave adios to the modern past. Newgarden rejects the sanctity of deep thought that had become the cultural currency of a neurotic society. He deflates us all by brushing away the posture of alienation with the devastating tagline, ” We all die alone.” Which is to say conversely that we are all the same. Newgarden’s cartoon is a perfect transition from one historic state to the next, from the alienation of the modern into the communal ennui of the early postmodern.

The Disney Sublime: In the Belly of the Mouse.

In fact, the transition away from the modern happened not in a progressive manner, but rather when the postmodern went inside the beast and there found a different kind of collective madness. The French theorists, Roland Barthes, Derrida, et al, who arguably were the most influential thinkers post-WWII with respect to the use and effects of the media, produced the postmodern enfant terrible, Jean Baudrillard. For him, after the failure of the revolutionary 1968 Paris riots, the world fell into the throes of late stage capitalism and into a self-delusional state in which reality slipped farther from reach. Baudrillard’s focus is on the blurred borders between the media and the real world. He cites Disney as our commonly experienced reality-irreality. Baudrillard moves his critique from the outside to the inside, he sees our new form of delusional psychosis as stemming from inside the world of Disney, from where we are no longer able to experience alienation as we once knew it.

Baudrillard in a passage entitled “Hyperreal and Imaginary” in his famous essay “Simulacra and Simulations,” first published in Semiotext(e) in 1981, writes about Disney and comics as part of the cover-up of reality. He writes, “Disney is a perfect model of all the entangled orders of simulation.” He sums the scale of the problem as he understands it with:

The objective profile of the United States, then, may be traced throughout Disneyland, even down to the morphology of individuals and the crowd. All its values are exalted here, in miniature and comic-strip form. Embalmed and pacified. (…) Disneyland is there to conceal the fact that it is the ‘real’ country, all of ‘real’ America, which is Disneyland (just as prisons are there to conceal the fact that it is the social in its entirety, in its banal omnipresence, which is carceral). Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, when in fact all of Los Angeles and the America surrounding it are no longer real, but of the order of the hyperreal and of simulation. It is no longer a question of a false representation of reality(ideology), but of concealing the fact that the real is no longer real, and thus of saving the reality principle.

In Baudrillard’s view we are being deluded. Our sanity is being deliberately assaulted. Baudrillard’s mistrust of all things Disney is palpable. His vision of a world where reality and irreality meld in a simulacrum of the real is exemplified by Disney’s fantasies. Previously, Mickey as Steamboat Willie was an amusing mouse who transported the goods that modern America desired. He stood in for those capitalist/modern values as the trickster everyman trying to get ahead. Disney honestly doubled down on the moneymaking, yet societally we still wanted to think that art and our values belonged to a commercially untarnished sphere. Mickey was the emblem of the modern. For Baudrillard, Disney became the backdrop of global conglomeration, whose tricks threatened us from behind the veil of the corporate. And in his article one can detect the signs of the impending schizophrenia that will follow on from delusion. Who among you does not harbor mixed feelings about Mickey? Or at least Pluto? We are all victims of this confusion of values.

While Baudrillard’s position is also more than a little paranoid, the fact remains that Disney images are everywhere. One is forced to ask what effect does it have on us when cartoons, literally escape the panel borders and come to 3 dimensional life? Disneyworld, Broadway shows, toys, mugs, teeshirts and advertising occupy as much space as does any other cultural form; more perhaps. Baudrillard’s is a postmodern sublime that is the container for the vast entity of Disney.

Almost as if to make the point, a very recent news article entitled : “The Flight from Mickey into the Madness of Pyongyang, North Korea” reported the following :

— Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh took the stage in North Korea during a concert for new leader Kim Jong Un, in an unusual performance featuring Disney characters. Performers dressed as Minnie Mouse, Tigger and others danced and pranced as footage from “Snow White,” “Dumbo,” “Beauty and the Beast” and other Disney movies played on a massive backdrop, according to still photos shown on state TV… the performance was staged Friday by the Moranbong band, which was making its debut after being assembled by Kim himself, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said. Kim, who took power after his father, longtime leader Kim Jong Il, died in December, has a “grandiose plan to bring about a dramatic turn in the field of literature and arts this year,” KCNA said.[1]

Mickey Mouse in Korea, onstage for Kim.

The Disney corporation did not give Korea permission to use their creations and one can only begin to imagine how Kim saw this interaction playing out. Perhaps he too is living in the fantasy world that Baudrillard presents. Inevitably Disney will ask for payment. But it perhaps hints at the dictator’s desire to put Baudrillard’s theory to work and to conceal his own brutal government with the warm and fuzzy.

Elsewhere, in Moengo, Suriname, Netherlander artist Wouter Klein Velderman built a giant wooden Mickey, assisted by local artists who carved totems into the legs. This inclusion Klein Welderman felt, somehow made it possible for the people to feel some autonomy in the coming industrialization of their country. The piece is entitled “Monument for Transition.” It is his warning of what they are to expect. What ever his motivation, Disney is now a real wooden artifact, standing securely on the cultural icons of Moengo’s heritage.

Moengo, which has only recently put a violent civil war behind it, needed to be warned by the presence of the Mouse. A little farther north at the Lone Star Performance Explosion, Houston’s International Performance Art Biennial, the Non Grata performance group donned latex Mickey hoods/masks and trashed a car with sledge hammers and explosives. I have to admit that this piece probably has more impact live and that I’m kind of delighted by the vigor of their gesture. But I want to draw attention to how Baudrillard’s once extraordinary theory has achieved in certain circles a common acceptance.

The early postmodern up-side of this if you will, is that bursts of anti-Mickey propaganda emerge from the margins to remind us of just where we really are. These various incursions into Disney property found early expression in the totally subversive and inspired Air Pirates work.

In these strips, Minnie and Mickey are caught in unguarded moments. We see their life behind the spotlights. Of course, this only adds another layer of confusion, because these comics fracture an imaginary world, but for a moment the reader is able to say “I knew that they were really like that all along.”

But if Baudrillard sees us living in a delusional state, Fredric Jameson in his 1991 essay “Postmodernism or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism” sees us experiencing a kind of schizophrenia. He elucidates his view of our affectless culture, which he suggests is built on the edifice of the late stage of capitalism. He writes of the parameters of his project:

I have felt, however, that it was only in the light of some conception of a dominant cultural logic or hegemonic norm that genuine difference could be measured and assessed…The postmodern is, however, the force field in which very different kinds of cultural impulses – what Raymond Williams has usefully termed “residual” and “emergent” forms of cultural production – must make their way. If we do not achieve some general sense of a cultural dominant, then we fall back into a view of present history as sheer heterogeneity, random difference, a coexistence of a host of distinct forces whose effectivity is undecidable…The exposition will take up in turn the following constitutive features of the postmodern: a new depthlessness, which finds its prolongation both in contemporary “theory” and in a whole new culture of the image or the simulacrum; a consequent weakening of historicity, both in our relationship to public History and in the new forms of our private temporality, whose “schizophrenic” structure (following Lacan) will determine new types of syntax or syntagmatic relationships in the more temporal arts; a whole new type of emotional ground tone – what I will call “intensities” – which can best be grasped by a return to older theories of the sublime; the deep constitutive relationships of all this to a whole new technology, which is itself a figure for a whole new economic world system.

Jameson later discusses how a postmodern sublime encompasses the relentlessly promulgating cultural media; film, TV, internet and electronic gadgets of all kinds, which destabilize our sense of self and fracture our psyche. In the arts, he sees only reproductions, which no longer parody their models, but rather that are affectless pastiches which offer nothing but a reflection of the citizen, who is now beyond-disaffected, beyond the neurosis of the existentialist, beyond all expressionist’s anxiety and finally in a dazed state of psychosis.

Jameson points out that the sublime of postmodern is not the dark and brooding place of the high romantics; it is not the depressed world of brooding heroes. Somewhere along the line, all of that angst and personal introspection has been replaced by another world of bright shiny surfaces, replicas and fragmented visions in a world now experiencing another kind of psychic onslaught. Jameson talks about the postmodern sublime as a type of container for all this madness, which he describes as a type of schizophrenia. Some comic artists were ahead of this curve. Newgarden seems to have nailed it, along with his cohorts at Raw. In part under the intellectual guidance of Francoise Mouly and Art Spiegelman, the french philosophical influence is evident in their editing.

Early Postmodern Shinings.

In a particularly postmodern way, a new insanity entered the pages of comics and schizophrenia became the new model.I still remember my first encounters with Stefano Tamburini and Tanino Liberatore’s (Rank Xerox) Ranxerox in 1978 and how I was still shocked by the unaffected violence.

Ranxerox was a mechanical creature made from Xerox photocopier parts and there was a randomness in his acts of violence that seemed to have no self-consciousness, no motivation and suggested a different sort of sociopathic absence of rationality. He was in fact, the embodiment of the age of mechanical reproduction. His violent acts were simply there, monstrously accumulating on the pages and refusing to be contained in any prior system of logic. His surfaces were shiny and he appeared smooth as if airbrushed into reality; he was alternately sexual and violent.

Ranxerox by Stefano Tamburini and Tanino Liberatore

The pantone pen technique used brought the character to life in a way that separated Rank from the art of the fumetti style Italian horror comics, such as Satanik and its predecessor Fantomas by Alain and Souvestre. The reader and the characters in these comics were aware that certain boundaries were being crossed, as they engaged and became archetypal villains, whereas in Liberatore’s world the characters remain largely oblivious.

Another train rider of the early postmodern is Panter’s Jimbo, whose blank ferocity reflects perfectly the explosion of media and the madness of everyday life. Jimbo lives surrounded by shakily drawn monsters and aliens. His reality environment sits between the real and the unreal.

Several years later in 1986 American bred, Elektra: Assassin, came to vivid and stylishly bloody life in the hands of Bill Sienkiewicz. With Frank Miller’s script, her madness was eroticized and melded with uncontained and unconscious violence. Elektra, an understood schizophrenic, is seen in her hospital room, incapable of managing her life. Unclear as to what or who she is (and of course this is Miller nailing the post modern condition) while she pursues her day job as assassin and her nights are spent in the confines of the institution. Her mental state is depicted as something more akin to her natural condition. Sienkiewicz’ art is a tour de force of photocopy, parody/pastiche and repetitions.

Sienkiewicz in what promised to be a new life for mainstream comics, used different mediums and techniques that both reflected technological advances and presented a comic that drew inspiration from myriad sources. The art is constantly changing its style and represents a reaction to the seeming explosion of new media as computers, satellites and early cell phones accelerated communication.

However, as Jameson also notes in his essay, boundaries are no longer held in check by any social mores, because we have been saturated and inured to images of violence, sex and those things that were once held distasteful since we have been institutionalized and sanctioned as part our lives. Jameson writes about this cultural numbing:

As for the postmodern revolt against all that, however, it must equally be stressed that its own offensive features – from obscurity and sexually explicit material to psychological squalor and overt expressions of social and political defiance, which transcend anything that might have been imagined at the most extreme moments of high modernism – no longer scandalise anyone and are not only received with the greatest complacency but have themselves become institutionalised and are at one with the official or public culture of Western society.

The Late Postmodern or the Post post modern even.

Josh Bayer and Tom Neely depict beings who no longer feel while other cartoon characters look out from the “secret prison” of Black Flag’s song. Nancy, Wimpy and Little Orphan Annie, Krazy Kat, Jughead, Mutt, Jeff, Goofy and Mickey peer out from behind bars while troubled figures lament how they have been ruined by comics and how they no longer can feel anything. The past exists in the sampled figures of cartoon culture. Dante is trampled underfoot and we are given a post-postmodern hell. These images of madness question where we exist after the punishment of the cartoon, what circle of media hell is home for us once we are conscious. This is the schizophrenia of the postmodern that Jameson describes.

Al Columbia’s Pim and Francie perhaps sums it all up. They run not walk to the sanatorium. Columbia’s characters are no longer in revolt, they are beyond that cognitive choice. Rather they live in a world that does not differentiate morality and feelings. Columbia draws snatches from various artists styles. They hover ghostlike, pulled back from our collective memory as they sit on pages that are torn, fragmented and abused in a confrontation of what it means to be a new product. Jameson suggest that nothing is left to shock us, but I’d suggest that Al Columbia does just that. In this final image the boy takes a straight razor to Bambi. He eschews the choice of Mickey and assaults us in the soft spot. Bambi, the sacred lamb, the sacred cow, the holy sanctified symbol of innocence, is offered to the madness of the postpostmodern. Bambi’s limbs lie dismembered in the grass and we are oh so close by, to see them.




Artist – Writer