Etienne Willem: Artbook Collection. Illustrated – Book Review by Fred Patten
by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Etienne Willem: Artbook Collection. Illustrated.
Geneva, Switzerland, Éditions Paquet, July 2017, hardcover, €20,00 (unpaged [94 pages]).
“Etienne Willem is a recognized cartoon author. Author of the semi-realistic crime series Vieille Bruyère and Bas de Soie, from L’épée d’Ardenois, starring animal characters in a medieval context, he is currently directing Les ailes du singe, taking the reader to a new dizzying air universe. A multi-talented author who will still amaze you in this completely new book.” (blurb, machine-translated & corrected)
Dogpatch Press reviewed volumes 3 and 4 of Willem’s 4-volume funny-animal The Sword of Ardenois, set in Medieval Europe, and the first two volumes of his funny-animal The Wings of the Monkey, set in Depression-era New York and Hollywood. (His Old Heather and Silk Stocking, a semi-serious 1920s-‘30s British detective series, isn’t anthropomorphic.)
Now here is a collection of Willem’s work, from rough sketches to model sheets, to parodies of popular dramatic comic-book artists like Frank Frazetta, and one-off drawings like a poster for a comic-book festival in Bastogne, and a beer label for the 2013 Comicsmania Festival in Belfaux-Corminboeuf, Switzerland. (No, I never heard of it, either.) Only about half of these are funny-animal, but his non-animal parodies like a team-up of Doctor Who (“the eleventh Doctor – the best”) and Harley Quinn may be appreciated by some of us, too.
There is a lot of steampunk-inspired art here, and some H. P. Lovecraft. A cartoon inspired by Game of Thrones combining human and animal characters. “Steampunk and funny-animal… I absolutely had to combine the two… So here is the little world of Drowningfish, a furry steampunk story set in the bayous of Louisiana after the War of Secession between the terrible carnivores of the South and the peaceful vegans of the North. Fortunately, the brilliant Professor Mole proposes to devote his intense efforts to developing a food that will let all nourish themselves without taking any lives … almost.” It sounds/looks like a cross between Jules Verne, Sherlock Holmes, Kimba the White Lion, and Pogo. I want to see more than a concept sketch!
The Belgian Willem is one of the best European funny-animal cartoonists today. His non-anthropomorphic work isn’t bad, either. He is probably most comparable to Albert Uderzo, the Astérix artist (and writer since René Goscinny died), but Uderzo doesn’t do funny-animals. Willem does. Wonderfully. You don’t have to read French to enjoy this.
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