Thursday, August 02, 2007

review: PULP HOPE

When longtime reader, recent internet pal, Trevor emailed me to see if I'd got my copy of PULP HOPE yet, I had to demur. "Nope", said I, having more money than sense, "I'm waiting for the hardcover. Would you like to write a review for me?". Sure, he said, and here's the result.

I work in a bookstore, which means that I get a hefty discount on any book I can order. This is an important fact to the following admission: I saw Paul Pope's new book, Pulp Hope, at my local comic shop, Dr. Comics, and did not wait to order it; instead I bought it there and then rushed home to begin digesting it.

And oh-my-golly what a rich dish it is! Not only does Pulp Hope contain original art (much I have never seen before), but it also includes crisp essays from Mr. Pope: the first time he saw manga, his creative-process, and the intersection between erotica, porn, and aesthetics, just to mention a few. And speaking of the last, Pope's erotica and ukiyo-e, or Ukiyo-E-Pope, is sheer pleasure to take in. And throughout, to my delight, Pope's voice is immediate, inclusive, and smart. But really, I didn't buy this for the words.

Pulp Hope is crammed full of full-color, full-panel, and full-imagination panels, one-shots, posters, and even a pull-out (Rock poster on one side and a THB landscape on the other). I was so happy to revisit, here and there, New York, Mars, and Tokyo. Each different from the other, with its own personality, but nonetheless existing on the same imaginative continent inside Pope's head (a quick aside—if anyone has read Bruno Schulz' work, can you imagine a better illustrator for it than Pope? This is something I would love to see). Pope includes some really neat portraits, too—included are the White Stripes and another page with Nick Cave. Really, the book is full of neat things, too much for me to compile a list.

My only criticism is this—there are a few photos of Pope and his work-space, and I wish there were more. This sneak peek into his life is intimate, and I can understand why this is scarce in the book, but it would have been neat to see more of where he lived in Japan, photos he took for reference in Europe and NYC, and more of his studio space. And yes, I understand that this is a book of Pope's art and illustration, not a bio of him per se, but it seems to me that including more of his actual environment would definitely have added to the collection. That said, the great essayist William Hazlitt once spoke of a requirement of good art: that it must have "gusto." Pope's collection not only has gusto in spades, but is gutsy too. There's a lot of adventure in his line-work, pacing, and composition, and I am truly glad to go along for the ride.

You know, rarely do I take home one of these "best-of" so-an-so books, as they are usually pretty, but unfortunately too quickly explored. Pope's book is certainly worth exploring and has a lot of terrain in which to wander about—I've had the book three days, and still have quite a lot to read, and a lot of art to pore over. It's a few cents under 30 bucks, which is about average for art books (plus, it's got flaps!). You can order the book from Adhouse
(www.adhousebooks.com), or you can wait as they will be offering a limited run of hardback editions for a hundred bucks a pop. Either way, it's worth it.

Cheers, Trevor. Now I'm positively salivating for this book. Dammit.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Great work. This review was so much better than if I'd done it myself, 'cus I'm such a lazy sod. My own review would barely have stretched to "cor blimey, guv'nor, this book gives me the horn" or something equally short/glib/easy to type.