War Time and Play Time by Luc Leplae. $16. 100+ pages. Hardcover, 5 x 8. Full color.
These are autobiographical comics that were published by the authors family. This first volume chronicles the author growing up in Brussels under the German occupation. It's hard to describe these comics---I think for many cartoonists who first saw them in the early 2000s, they left a profound effect. Leplae's cartooning is at once unconventional and straighforward. The approach to drawing is aesthetically beautiful, as you see ideas about how to render certain things being worked out in the stories themselves. But Leplae is obviously a natural cartoonist, despite a possible superficial reading that his approach to the form is against the grain: these volumes pack information, thought and emotion in a highly sophisticated way. Diagrams and explanations overwhelm one page, while the next is left sparse to emphasize a key feeling or mood. The autobiography is at once pleasant and alarming, as we see the author and others in his life alternate from daily life to harrowing scenes with transitions in feeling that turn on a dime.
For years I've recommended these comics to anyone and everyone. They are worth seeing for their sheer visual beauty alone, but also as examples of another way of thinking about how comics can be made---not strictly avant garde and far from traditional, they occupy a difficult place within art cartooning, but should be embraced by many as long as they can be seen. These volumes have often been hard to find, so I'm honored to be able to offer them through DOMINO.