Pim and Francie: The Golden Bear Days by Al Columbia Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

Pim and Francie: The Golden Bear Days

This gorgeous grimoire is part alchemy, part art book, part storybook, part comic book, and part conceptual art from the pen of Al Columbia, a longtime fan favorite contributor to comics anthologies like Zero Zero, Blab , and more recently, MOME. Collecting over a decade s worth of artifacts, excavations, comic strips, animation stills, storybook covers, and much more, thi

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    Eisnein

    Eisnein’s No.29 Favorite Artist/Artbook. Check Out No.30 Right HERE. Go Back to No.1 HERE.

    King of Creeps: Al Columbia’s ‘Pim and Francie: The Golden Bear Days’

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    Al Columbia is an anomaly in the world of comics. He first emerged in the late 80’s, working as an assistant to Bill Sienkiewicz when the older artists’ fully-painted work on series like Elektra: Assassin had established him as one of the most influential and successful names in comics. When Alan Moore quit DC and began writing edgier



    King of Creeps: Al Columbia’s ‘Pim and Francie: The Golden Bear Days’

    description

    Al Columbia is an anomaly in the world of comics. He first emerged in the late 80’s, working as an assistant to Bill Sienkiewicz when the older artists’ fully-painted work on series like Elektra: Assassin had established him as one of the most influential and successful names in comics. When Alan Moore quit DC and began writing edgier material for independent publishers, who were enjoying a temporary but massive sales increase thanks to a speculative market gone mad, Sienkiewicz was the artist who would collaborate with him on a creator-owned title, ‘Big Numbers’.

    Bill Sienkiewicz, from the unfinished ‘Big Numbers’ issue 3:
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    Al Columbia:
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    It was an astonishingly complex and ambitious work, and the first two issues were a critical and financial success. For reasons never fully understood, Sienkiewicz quit the project after completing most of issue 3. Al Columbia was announced as Sienkiewicz’s replacement, beginning with issue 4, and a new publisher was on board. He was a talented artist, and likely the only one capable of replicating his former boss and mentors’ style (with the possible exceptions of Dave McKean and Barron Storey, who were busy with their own respective projects at the time).

    But as the deadline got closer, Moore and the publisher, Tundra (who agreed to release issues 3 and 4 if they liked Columbia’s finished pages; Moore’s own company, ‘Mad Love’, had handled issues 1 and 2, but Moore wanted to focus on writing), had a harder and harder time contacting him. When they did, it was clear he wasn’t going to make the date originally solicited. So they pushed it back, and made their excuses and apologies to the distributors, assuming a bit more time would allow young Al Columbia to get it together. But it didn’t.

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    He dropped out of sight completely, and no one could find him. Finally, they searched the studio, hoping to find whatever had been completed in a state close enough to finished work that it could be published, with a little doctoring. But what they found was evidence Columbia suffered a nervous breakdown; the studio had been trashed, and all that was left of Columbia’s art for Big Numbers issue 4 was shreds and scraps.

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    With the deadlines for both 3 and 4 blown and no high-profile artists willing to work with Moore on the cursed project that had sent one artist fleeing across the ocean and driven another one insane, Tundra pulled out. Moore reluctantly let his promising story go and turned to other, equally ambitious tales. Issue #3 was never published in its proper form, but in 1999, 10 pages were printed in a one-and-done magazine called ‘Submedia’. In 2009, a photocopy of the complete lettered art for Big Numbers #3 surfaced on eBay. The purchaser contacted Moore, and with his permission published scans of the art on LiveJournal.

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    In 2001 Eddie Campbell, who was the artist behind Alan Moore’s greatest work, ‘From Hell’, published a sequential art account of the Big Numbers-meltdown in his book ‘Alec: How To Be An Artist’. From Wikipedia: ‘Columbia declined to address the subject publicly for several years, writing in a 1998 letter to The Comics Journal that “I could easily launch into a tirade about the extensive horror of my Tundra experience, but I much prefer the very entertaining and conflicting accounts already in circulation.” In later statements he confirmed that he destroyed his artwork but disputed other claims by the principal figures in the fiasco.’

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    His career after the Big Numbers meltdown has been suitably strange. In the last 25 years he has produced five or so comics, most notably The Biologic Show #0 and 1 for Fantagraphics, and around 20 short stories for comic anthologies like Zero Zero (which he also founded and curated), Blab! and Mome. Despite his extremely limited output, his work is among the most original and beautifully rendered in modern comics. His style quickly mutated in the early 90’s, as he abandoned the Sienkiewicz influence and pioneered a heavily inked chiaroscuro approach that incorporated the painted black-and-white backgrounds and thickly-lined characters and foregrounds of early animators Max Fleischer, Pat Sullivan, Otto Mesmer, and Winsor McCay (whose comic-strip masterpiece, ‘Little Nemo in Slumberland’, was probably more of an influence than his innovative pre-WWI animation).

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    It was his short stories that first blew my mind, as it likely was for many people. His 8-page story from Blab! Volume 10, ‘The Trumpets They Played’, featuring his character Seymour Sunshine, is a hilarious and horrifying vision of the biblical apocalypse. The artwork is ineffable, a gorgeous black-and-white horror-show starring the many beasts described in Revelations, with scriptural excerpts included like the story-boards from silent films… which is exactly what this story looks like, a cartoon from the silent era.
    For me, ‘The Trumpets…’ is the best 8 pages in comics history. Together with other classics like ‘Amnesia’ and ‘I Was Killing When Killing Wasn’t Cool’, this spare oeuvre has fascinated and influenced an entire generation of artists. He remains a mystery, and that works to his advantage. He also does what very few artists are able to do — he always leaves his audience wanting more.

    From ‘The Trumpets They Played’, Blab!; ‘Amnesia’, Zero Zero:
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    That made the news that his long-time publisher Fantagraphics would be releasing a 240 page book of NEW Al Columbia work so fucking shocking; if you took all his comics, stories and illustrations from the previous 20 years it probably wouldn’t add up to much more than 240 pages (NOTE TO FANTAGRAPHICS: That is a collection every Columbia fan is still impatiently waiting for).

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    The material included in ‘Pim and Francie’ (named for the occasionally murderous siblings who have been Columbia favorites since The Biologic Show #0) is a disjointed compilation of stories, illustrations and sketches, some pages only half-inked, others torn or stained with coffee-rings. A longer story will begin to surface, then abruptly terminate, or change direction entirely. Pim murders Francie, then Francie murders Pim, then both kids are fed into meat-grinders by a demonic stranger, or pursued by the cat-decapitating ‘Bloody, Bloody Killer’.

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    Recurring images indicate a narrative left unexplored. Faint pentimentos from drawings and dialogue erased by the artist provide fascinating clues… In a long article from the first issue of the deluxe Comics Journal Special Editions (with huge, full-color 12″ x 12″ pages), the writer sums up the frustrating genius of Columbia perfectly, and provides a detailed history of his comics career. Columbia provided quite a few full-color illustrations to accompany the article, including promotional art for the Pim and Francie book that was said to be coming out later that year… in 2002. Needless to say, it never materialized. Six years later, the painfully self-critical Columbia appeared to have denied his perfectionist impulses, and in an incredible feat of will, burst into Gary Groth’s office screaming ‘Take it! Just fucking take it, take it, TAKE IT,” hurling a massive portfolio stuffed with the pages that make up ‘Pim and Francie’ at the notorious publisher’s head. Before Groth could respond, Columbia disappeared into the Seattle night.

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    That’s not what really happened, but after ‘reading’ this glorious testament to the genius of Al Columbia, it’s how I like to imagine it. ‘Pim and Francie’ is not a graphic novel. While it contains short stories and story fragments, it is actually a beautifully produced art monograph. I couldn’t believe I finally had an entire book full of Al Columbia art, from sketches to finished illustrations and everything in between. It took a long fuckin’ time, but it happened.

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    In the intervening years since it was first released, his reputation has grown. His influence on sequential art is a given, but lately, it is being acknowledged by more and more gallery artists that he was a defining inspiration — artists like Aaron Horkey, Camille Rose Garcia, and Marguerite Van Cook. Columbia, like his fellow Zero Zero contributor Dave Cooper, has made the move to galleries, and has been profiled by Juxtapoz and Hi-Fructose. His second appearance in Hi-Fructose magazines’ thirty-first issue included one of their awesome 16-page inserts devoted entirely to his art (Hi-Fructose Magazine Volume 15 – His first appearance, 12 pg; Hi-Fructose Magazine Volume 31 – 18 pages, 16 of them in a booklet insert. It includes new art, while much of the material from V.15 is from Pim and Francie and his older stories; but the article/interview is great. Both are a must for Columbia fans, and if you haven’t read Hi-Fructose, you should). Good news, for Al Columbia fans.

    Top & Center: The first and second Hi-Fructose appearances.
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    As Aaron Horkey put it in Juxtapoz: “countless successful artists continue to pillage [Columbia’s] back catalog, propping up their half-baked careers on the well-worn spines of second hand copies of Biologic Show.” It’s time Al Columbia stepped into the spotlight.

    Eisnein’s No.29 Favorite Artist/Artbook. Check Out No.30 Right HERE. Go Back to No.1 HERE.



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    A Mysterious Review That Might Be Related to the Book in Question, But Written By A Friend Instead

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    Forrest

    Mar 27, 2015

    rated it
    it was amazing

    I’ve long been a fan of Pop Surrealism, particularly that of the darker variety. Al Columbia is one of my favorite artists of the movement. After “reading” Pim and Francie: The Golden Bear, he remains one of my favorites.

    Imagine, if you will, sitting in a decrepit apartment, the kind with sirens down the street, gunshots down the hall, and weeds a’la Little Shop of Horrors growing in the cracks of the sidewalks. It is the mid 1960’s, and you are up late watching three black and white television

    Imagine, if you will, sitting in a decrepit apartment, the kind with sirens down the street, gunshots down the hall, and weeds a’la Little Shop of Horrors growing in the cracks of the sidewalks. It is the mid 1960’s, and you are up late watching three black and white televisions at once. One is showing Mickey Mouse’s haunted house episode, another, an episode of The Twilight Zone, say . . . Eye of the Beholder and the third, a silent documentary film showing humans and animals being skinned and eviscerated. In the midst of this, you’ve dropped some mighty powerful bad acid. Really bad acid. We’re talking like Monterey Pop Festival brown acid, complete with Wavy Gravy yelling “Don’t eat the brown acid!” just as you swallow that Mickey Mouse blotter. Now let it all melt together.

    That’s our starting point. Or maybe our ending point. Many of the illustrations here are incomplete. Fragments of dialogue, usually running off the page or cut off by misbehaving panels, are interpolated with barely-legible scribbles in the artist’s hand. The few that are readable show a semi-obscured dark underbelly to the seemingly innocent dialogue between Pim, Francie, and others.

    If you’re searching for plot, go back to my description of the ghastly room I’ve described and ask yourself if anything, anything at all, would be coherent under those circumstances. Now take the darkest interstices of your confused thoughts and mash them onto glossy paper with a printing press. If you’re looking for plot, you are never going to come down off that bad acid trip.

    Still, there is some sort of coherence to the whole thing. Maybe it’s the preponderance of loose-intestines-as-tethers or multi-limbed psychotic killers or Pim and Francie’s grandmother and grandfather living, dying, undying and zombifying that provide a tenuous thread that gives about enough to hold onto as David Lynch’s Eraserhead or a Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble album.

    Not much to go on, but it will have to do. IT-WILL-HAVE-TO-DO!!!!
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    Anthony Vacca

    Mar 26, 2015

    rated it
    it was amazing

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    What a wonderful book of nightmares! Lending the sensibilities of the Grand Guignol to the art styling of early Walt Disney cartoons (mouse-ear caps, exaggerated limbs and lumps, big can-do smiles), this collection of drawings, scribblings, cut-and-pastings and vaguely coherent snippets of sequential art regales the eye with the misadventures of Pim and Francie, two mildly incestuous waifs who occasionally (sometimes accidentally) murder one another when they aren’t too busy torturing frogs, dec

    What a wonderful book of nightmares! Lending the sensibilities of the Grand Guignol to the art styling of early Walt Disney cartoons (mouse-ear caps, exaggerated limbs and lumps, big can-do smiles), this collection of drawings, scribblings, cut-and-pastings and vaguely coherent snippets of sequential art regales the eye with the misadventures of Pim and Francie, two mildly incestuous waifs who occasionally (sometimes accidentally) murder one another when they aren’t too busy torturing frogs, decapitating goldfish, mutilating the eyes of plant-bird creatures, mutilating their own eyes, outrunning multi-armed adults wielding knives or getting lost in bucolic country sides and spooky forests. Columbia takes loving care in presenting the work as a collection of artifacts: faded pencilings in the margins, blotches where words or images from subsequent pages seep through, portions of panels left obscure by the edges of the page, stickers of tape holding images to the page. Pim and Francie: The Golden Bear Days feels like the sepia-tinged snapshots and unfurled scraps of the phantasmagoric shadows casted from the inside of a madman’s skull. Loved it.

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