Re:Read is an occasional column by Fantagraphics Bookstore curator Larry Reid examining backlist books you may have missed or merit another look. This time we’ll focus on Gerald Jablonski’s visionary masterpiece Farmer Ned’s Comics Barn from Fantagraphics adventurous FU Press imprint.
I’ve always been drawn to “outsider” art, characterized by deeply obsessive expression. Gerald Jablonski’s work seamlessly combines the naïve sensibilities of folk artists like Reverend Howard Finster with the meticulous sophistication of cartoonists like Daniel Clowes – fluid, yet strangely formal. Farmer Ned’s Comics Barn alternates between dense, intricate narratives and spare, wordless renderings. Amazingly, in an appended interview with Gary Groth, the artist reveals he works intuitively: “I don’t use pencils except for lettering guides. I draw ink directly to paper.” Jim Woodring’s introduction compares Jablonski’s book to a spiritual conversion: “Exhilarating new sensations will wash over you, the world will seem fresh and new for a short period of time. And afterwards, like the supplicant whose life of devotion culminates in a reality-shattering vision, your personality will bear the imprint of this experience for the rest of your days.”
Farmer Ned’s Comics Barn and the complete line of FU Press titles can be found at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, located at 1201 S. Vale Street in the heart of Seattle’s historic Georgetown art community. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. Phone 206-557-54910.