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Abstract Comics: The Anthology
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Abstract Comics: The Anthology

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  62 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Abstract comics? Don't all comics tell stories? How can a comic be abstract? Well, as it happens, beginning with the experiments of Saul Steinberg, through some of the more psychedelic creations of R. Crumb and Victor Moscoso, and with increasing frequency in recent years, cartoonists and other artists have played with the possibility of comics whose panels contain little ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by Fantagraphics (first published June 30th 2009)
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Fredrik Strömberg
This book is exactly what the title indicates, that is if not the end-all, then at least the first and so far only major book on the subject of comics that can be deemed as abstract.

The book contains a preface with a well-written but far too short essay on the subject of abstract comics, as well as a historical overview of the precursors to the abstract comics, mostly from the fine art's world, with many if somewhat small illustrations. The majority of the book is then an anthology with
Full Stop
Jun 13, 2014 Full Stop added it
Shelves: spring-2011

Review by Tim Platt

Abstraction of form is a given in comics. Clouds are thoughts, sticks are people, and capes are cool. In his seminal Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud has a theory: “by de-emphasizing the appearance of the physical world in favor of the idea of form, the cartoon places itself in the world of concepts”. To McCloud, this makes “comics“ a form of language. “Words,” he says, “are the ultimate abstraction”. Simple or stylized images best en

(More pictures at

After a visit to the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, I realised I'm not a big fan of abstract art. Getting Abstract Comics confirms the fact that I'm not a big fan of abstract art.

This book has a very nice textured cover.

The comics here resemble IQ quizzes that test the ability to recognise patterns. But they are more difficult here — insanely difficult — as they replace simple geometric shapes with abstract comic lines, colours and collage. Solving them will
I was hoping that some of these shorts (I was about to write "short stories," but "stories" would seem to need, you know, -things- and -people- in them) could provide a visceral new experience, if not "beautiful" or engaging in the way that more traditional comics can be then at least a whole new punch in the gut, akin to listening to experimental noise or drone music.

A couple managed to excite me - most notably R. Crumb's "Abstract Expressionist Ultra Super Modernistic Comics," which I had rea
I sort of want to rate this higher, but I just didn't respond to it that well. There were a few comics I really enjoyed, but I think abstract art is generally harder to relate to. It was also just difficult to see comics in such an obtuse way.
This book forces one to consider comics as art objects. It is fascinating to see how wordless, abstract narrative is sustained in some places and completely absent in others.
Feb 05, 2014 BL834 added it
Yep. Those are abstract drawings on paper. That's all I have to say about that.
Apr 05, 2010 M. rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010, comix
There's some good stuff in here, but, similarly to my response to abstract art in itself, a lot of it is boring. I need something beyond aesthetics, or if it's purely aesthetics & formal I need it to fit the aesthetics that I have a preference for, which several of these comix meet.
May 17, 2011 rr added it
Oh, oh, oh, I like this book! It's a great anthology of comics that work in not-necessarily-representational and not-necessarily-narrative ways. It pushes readers to consider how much representation & how much narrative momentum they import into what they read and see.
This almost got one star from me. I just don't appreciate abstract art. Never have. For the price of this expensive hardcover, I need more. I finished looking at it in less than half an hour and was pretty unsatisfied. There are much better anthologies out there.
Jane Elizabeth
Surprising, visually exciting, and mostly over my head; I want to revisit this book after I have spent a lot more time actually creating my own comics, and can appreciate it more fully.
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