A + D 419 • Prof. Phoebe Gloeckner
Monday and Wednesday 6:30-9:30
Art + Architecture Bldg. 2043
Gloeckner's web site
School of Art and Design
U of M
Renee French first cast her shadow on the alternative comics scene in the early nineties, with titles like “Grit Bath.” Her work can immediately be characterized by French’s unique cinematic eye and the quality of her drawings. Her early work exhibits an adherence to more “traditional” comics-crafting technique. We can see evident use of quill pen and brush and ink. As her work progresses, however, it fully blossoms as she explores further with graphite and wash. Of French’s work as a whole, these fully tonal illustrations (as seen in “The Soap Lady’) reach furthest into her own surreal world.
“The Soap Lady” and other contemporary French works bank off of their lush illustrative worlds in order to draw the audience inwards. As an audience member, we are immediately confronted with a clearly foreign setting and even moreso foreign characters. Everyone appears soft-spoken and curious, drawing out our attention and asking for our trust, which we eventually relinquish still not yet quite convinced that we won’t face an ambush on the very next page. There are those who would be reluctant to call “The Soap Lady’ a children’s book, as after digging past its illustrious façade, we can see clearly that it is not a book entitled solely for children. I would call “The Soap Lady” a children’s book in the most ultimate sense as, while perhaps not intended fully for children, it reiterates an experience that provokes our child-like sensibilities of exploration and fearfulness.
In addition to “The Soap Lady,” French has just completed her most recent graphic novel, “The Ticking.” “The Ticking,” according to French, is her most exciting and successful venture to date.