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"An anthology of delicious comics by Portuguese toast makers."
“A particularidade desta antologia está no facto de ser uma edição totalmente em língua inglesa, apontando baterias para a divulgação dos autores e do projecto editorial que os acolhe no mercado internacional.”
“Com Crumbs, o desafio (...) passa por criar uma montra de autores que possam ser dados a conhecer além-fronteiras.”
Under the title “Crumbs, um livrinho à conquista do mundo”, Sara Figueiredo Costa sums up the intended purpose of the foretold book as to “mostrar ao mundo o que de melhor se faz em Portugal”, echoing remarks by Mário Freitas, editor of Kingpin Books on that same ambition, one that the book itself states in undoubted terms:
“CRUMBS is a celebration of that unique identity . (…) Diverse crumbs of undeniable talent. Not Portuguese talent stricto sensu. World-class talent in itself.”
Considering the potential interest of all those international readers who will want to know more about this “little book” set out to “conquer the world”, we thought to set up this page aimed at helping our fellow brothers to get better acquaintance with the Portuguese comics scene, with our own personal digest of these aforementioned 142 pages.
But before we discourse on each of the stories, we should probably disclosure a little something about the POSITIVES for the sake of impartiality:
- We’re satirical. Yeah, let us stress that one out really clearly one more time: we-be-satirical
- And we also do comix ourselves. That’s something you’ll want to keep in mind ‘cuz this author is himself on times guilty of some of the doings he’s about to censure in his fellow countryman so don’t take it so hastily
- Oh, that reminds us of disclosure number 3: we-be-pricks
So, let’s get started. The book itself is small on size, with the exact dimension of, say, “The Roadtrip” #1 and #2, although slightly thicker.Crumbs, The Roadtrip #1 & #2
But, obviously, not as big as the trilogy’s opus The Roadtrip #3:Crumbs and The Roadtrip #3
By the way, did you notice the shameless plug on my comics? Told ya, I'm a prick. And stepping back to disclosure nº two, I can’t begin to explain my impression on the book without first clarifying my own stance on comic in general. OS POSITIVOS ramble on a very distinct path compromising different levels of intentions I divide within 3 axes:
My comics are personal both in content and intended audience. Between the “me”, “us” and “them” split, they remain close to heart and when speaking out I only preach to the converted.
I will on occasions go as far as reaching out to “them",
…and when I do go there, it’s mainly to tell “them” to fuck off.
I state this ‘cuz its a major difference with any other Portuguese comics I know of, for unlike my own personal preferences, all comics in Portugal cater for “them”:
Alas, they do so in theory but not in practice, for “they” are unable to get “them” to read their stuff anyway (but that’s another all story, fuck’em…). Do keep in mind that devise though, it will come quite handy down on…
Secondly, most Portuguese comics also tend to fall in the same ol’ categories, somewhere between the utter crap or arty crap side of the lines. Here, let me present you with a diagram of the complex Portuguese comics scene:
Arty is as big or bigger as commercial comics in Portugal - for instance, the Prémio Nacional de Banda Desenhada: Melhor Álbum Português was attributed to Zona de Desconforto, a compilation edited by Marcos Farrajota of Chili com Carne, straight out of the artsy part of town (*). There’s very little to absolute no original Portuguese comics outside the arty-stuff. But although I can sum up the Portuguese comics scene in this duality of utter-arty-crap, there is an abundant variety of offerings within that monolithic culture.Yes, we got choices.
*) Or, as some would put it, "cujos objectivos é o da exploração de uma banda desenhada contemporânea, poética, se assim o entenderem, informada nas mais variadas experiências artísticas e modos de expressão, e alheia a categorizações convencionais". Can u guess who said it?
So having now explained the a) b) and c)s of yours truly, let’s see how CRUMBS fairs, shall we? We shall.
First, going back to the format, I luv it. I’ll buy every fuckin’ book Kingpin puts out on this format just for tha sake of it’s size. It’s a personal preference but it’s a long time favorite of mine. Check out some of my other zines:Crumbs and some of the [D]ejected zines Crumbs and our ready-made Comix Guerrilla Warfare
Yep, still pluging my own comics, aint I a stinker?!
But we should not judge a book by its cover, so lets dive straight into the comics themselves:
Light Bearer, by André Oliveira and André Caetano. Utter crap. So it makes perfect sense to be the first story on the book: whatever comes next will feel like an improvement, things can only get better from this point on.
I have no problem with the art itself – shiiiiit, I'm a long time apologists of crappy art as long as the story itself works out, and the art is ok– but the story is just too flimsy.
The moment I picked up the book and flipped thru its pages, I saw a whole lot of floating square legends, and that’s always a dead giveaway of narrators or characters going thru their personal thoughts on the meaning of life. But hey!, as long as the writing stands up and doesn’t depend on unrelated time shifting panels to advance the story – ah shit, it does… Well, I’m crossing fingers for some sort of grand finale, some unexpected twist, something fresh and new… And, if you read the story, you might think it did just that. But it didn’t, the end comes down to the same old circular logic all existential comics fall into. Yeah, I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt but the formula is just all too familiar ad we’ve read it a million times before, and better. It just feels lazy. Pretty sure it felt fine on text, but, come on!, you gotta make it work with the pretty pictures too, and it just doesn’t. Dude should have gone for the cartoonish look, that worked out better later on... And it gets worst when you consider the story aims at having some sort of deep special meaning (fail), written by a guy that makes a living of it (do quit your day job), but it just drags on and one can’t wait to finish the damn thing and move on.
Tunnels, Fernando Dório and Bernando Majer. Pick a better song? The art is fine and we can image it working really well on a lengthy graphic novel (maybe something on the meaning of life? Ask the previous guy…), but comic adaptations of songs are not a straightforward business –it boils down to rhythm, not just static visuals: that sort of thing is better suited with animation anyway. There are plenty of good music-inspired comics, but one really as to consider the in-betweens, the flow, the – fuck it, ask that other Crumbs, what’s his name.. that Robert guy, yeah, he has plenty of music derived comics, maybe a revision of some of his stuff is in order.
Oh and the editor failed the artists by not putting his foot down and doing his job: those last three panels? Should have been cut straight out of the story, period.
The Boar-man is getting married: or, Leng Tch’e, David Soares and Pedro Serpa. This punx is skipping it: or, some other time mayb'e. I feel Pedro Serpa took a lotta shit on his drawing style on his previous collaborations with David Soares, unfairly so. I actually liked his line, not so much the stories. Here, I dislike both. Granted, I’ve stopped reading David’s stories some time ago, I just cruise by his comics like an small oddity I cant relate to, but this time around the all grey pencil thingy put me off as much as the story itself. It’s a personal choice, mind you: you gotta be in the mood, and I haven’t been in it for years now. I want to believe there’s something there, but I can’t bother myself to read it twice. I have no relation to the stuff.
Orwell, the Soviet Cat, Mário Freitas and Sérgio Marques. Either the worst fail in the book or it’s about some sort of kinky-sex-thingy I dont understand… The first panel hits me in full glory, especially after the oh-so-many pencil-grey pages of the previous story. I liked that panel A LOT and felt dumb for not knowing jack shit about the guy that drew it. But as the story plays out, it feels like a 4th grade essay on freedom and the human condition guised in the all cat thingy. Again, like the very first story, the higher the aim the worst the fall. Its awful, juvenile, sterile.
OR, it’s a sex thing.
Really. Go thru the story again: there’s a whole lotta views in there you guys (and girls who used strapped-ons before) will remember from, you know, last night fuck. All those looking above the shoulder poses? Really, really weird to be taken there for no reason what so ever. Yeah, this story is about sex, must be. Or it sucks like hell.
Speaking ot it,
Young Enlil goes to Hell, Pedro Cruz. If this is Hell, I’m staying. First story on Crumbs by a single author, no writer/artist split here. And maybe that’s why it works so well.
In short, I’m not one for magical fantastic worlds of wonder and mythology and stuff, but Pedro’s comics surprised me because it had a sense of… fun. Not because it was (or wasn’t) funny, but because it felt like tha dude had fun doing his stuff. And that shit transpired to me, so I enjoyed reading it, that simple. He worked his universe, he played the rules, he enjoyed doing it, and that made his comic real to me. Unlike a 4th grade play where the kids are all nervous and choking on stage, too busy worrying about repeating the lines to make the all ordeal any less wearisome to watch, here comes this guy that plays the part in a flawless manner secure of himself enough to own it, amuse us, and he even wink back at the audience.
For this comic alone, I’d buy Crumbs all over again.
The Green Pool, Francisco Sousa Lobo. High hopes. Remember what I said about that very first story on Crumbs? The existential mumbo jumbo and the square legends, the jumping timeline and coming full circle in the end… Well, at least here it works! Again, like the young Enlil, this is a single man show, so there’s something to say about being in control of the all thing, especially in personal comics. And the main difference between this story and the Light Bearer? While the first feels like it’s trying really hard to follow some comic template and in the process squeezing in a story, Francisco is telling a story using a comic for it. It made all the difference in the world for me.
Low Battery, Nuno Duarte and Osvaldo Medina. An almost professional, solid comic. Personally not my cup of tea, but clinically speaking a straight up, straight forward comic that would make any Portuguese comics reader proud of it (*).
*) About Portuguese pride or any sort of national pride… you know in this site how the story goes:
um patriota, é um ______?
It’s up there with some of the things you’ll find in any major label, I just dislike the “bend over looking back above the shoulder shaking her ass” pose, the sex innuendo is a childish accord in Portuguese comics that bores tha crap out of me and I've just seen it a couple of stories earlier in a weirder awkward context…
Hanging garden, André Oliveira and Inês Galo. Shit, it's a poem. I hate poetry but luv poetry in motion :) Most of the art is all right – but not the kids faces, those were poorly drawn... It’s supposed to be abstract, it’s short and sweet (bitter), and any longer those square legends floating on top of the images would start to get annoying. Like it is, cant complain much. (And you people know I like to complain!) Going with the cartoony look was a way better choice.
Ick, Joana Afonso. Pretty pictures. Really pretty pictures. Luv her style, her art, the characters, the backgrounds, the details. Competently executed, but her work never touched a nerve, I have yet to read a story of hers that has a soul. She has most definitly one of the best styles around, but she's just painting pages. Please forget whatever utter crap you were taught, drop a couple of acids and let it really rip. Fuck the rules.
In Clouds, Ana Matias and Bernando Majer. It’s allright. In short, good art, works out: I’d let my kids read this stuff to get them hooked on comics. Having said that, it is a children comic.
Omega, Nuno Duarte and Ricardo Venâncio. A professional, solid comic. There’s not much to say here: the thing is another solid comic. Again, not a particular preference of ours, but this is the sort of stuff professional comics came to be and made a market for themselves. If they didn’t exist, neither would our alternative and underground comics scene, for there would be no mainstream to tackle. You guys keep doing your thing and bring it to ever-larger audiences, them we’ll sneak in and do our thing.
Walpurgis 77, Zé Burnay. Nice illustrations. Pretty pictures, really. Great style, always did like the style... Could you now make a comic with it? I’d luv that too.
In conclusion. Like the book says, it’s definitely a celebration of sorts of the unique identity of Portuguese comics. But than again, so is “Quadradinhos” an comics anthology from Treviso Comic Book Fest, “88 pages of comics (…) of a wide range of authors, coming from the underground to the international mainstream and from the new breed to older artists: João Fazenda, André Coelho with Manuel João Neto (...), José Smith Vargas, Ana Biscaia (...) João Pedro Mésseder, Nuno Saraiva, Francisco Sousa Lobo (...), Afonso Ferreira (...) Pedro Burgos, Filipe Abranches, Miguel Rocha with Susana Marques, Joana Afonso with André Oliveira, Jorge Coelho (...), Pepedelrey and Rudolfo”.Quadradinhos and Rewilding #1
Yeah, let's go there some other time.
Either way, the comics scene needs this stuff or die otherwise. What's worst?
At this point some guy is going: “hey jerk, let’s look at your comix, shall we?”. But, asshole, my comix and this stuff don’t relate, we’re not even playing the same game. U dumb. At this point my peeps are going “hey jerk” (yeah, they are assholes too, but their my peeps!) “why ur doing this anyway?”. One reason: long weekend! Besides, ya kiddin’?! I just wrote the longest post in English language about Portuguese comics and dumped on it all these references: Crumbs, Sara Figueiro Costa, Mário Freitas, Marcos Farrajota, Chili com Carne, André Oliveira, André Caetano, Fernando Dório, Bernando Majer, David Soares, Pedro Serpa, Sérgio Marques, Pedro Cruz, Francisco Sousa Lobo, Nuno Duarte, Osvaldo Medina, Inês Galo, Joana Afonso, Ana Matias, Ricardo Venâncio, Zé Burnay, João Fazenda, André Coelho, Manuel João Neto, José Smith Vargas, Ana Biscaia, João Pedro Mésseder, Nuno Saraiva, Afonso Ferreira, Pedro Burgos, Filipe Abranches, Miguel Rocha, Susana Marques, Jorge Coelho, Pepedelrey and Rudolfo... Once google indexes my post, I’ll be all up on this bitch whenever anyone looks up the topic. I-am-evil! Speaking of it, uh, Lisbon Studio, Edições Polvo do Rui Brito. What else... Hell, let me go beserk: Tintin, Marvel and X-Men, Superman, Batman, Viagra and free porn. Funny cat videos. No, better yet, cat sex thingys! Really!
Citations: Sara Figueirdo Costa 6 dez 2014 and Pedro Moura 5 dez 2019. Jiiisus, 2015 and still quoting the same sources... sad sad state of affairs... By the way, Sara, a few of years ago I kinda thought your wishfull thinking was getting the best of you (LER 2012, "de que falamos quando falamos hoje de BD portuguesa"). Back than I asked "com todas as referencias esgotadas, que promessa permanece por cumprir para a banda desenhada nacional que se possa aperaltar para 2013 (2013! funny!), que não retumbe a deja vu e que já não tenha já sido fustigada até ao seu âmago para a exaltação caridosa da nossa BD?". But I see you're still an optimist: "a selecção de autores não deixa de ser representativa de um momento em que as histórias assumem papel de relevo no reanimar de um mercado que andava a precisar de novo fôlego". No shit.
Greetings from Portugal!
(shameless, shameless plug!)