True-crime classics from the legendary outsider artist in a big little format.Joe Coleman has spent the last quarter-century purging and embracing his demons through art, an angry artist obsessed with decay and the extremes of human behavior. He is best known for his rich oil paintings, but what many don't know is that he has also created an impressive body of sequential, black-and-white art, which this volume collects. As with his paintings, Coleman is obsessed with violence and dementia, particularly in regard to cultural antiheroes and serial killers. Muzzlers, Guzzlers, and Good Yeggs collects the best of his true crime tales. Like a blend of Breughel and the EC horror comics of the 1950s, Coleman's character studies are dripping with lurid imagery and a pulp sensibility, rendered with careful draughtsmanship and dense with information. Coleman is obsessed with fear, the fear that inspires the horrible acts of the people he writes about, as well as the fear that their acts inspire. Muzzlers features five stories: "You Can't Win," which adapts the memoir of the same name by Jack Black, the notorious early 20th century con-man, thief, opium addict, convict and author; "Boxcar Bertha," which is about the depression-era female hobo who is driven to prostitution, only to be led to salvation by an unwanted pregnancy; "Carl Panzram, #31614," which depicts the life of the notorious serial killer and rapist who declared, "I hate the whole damned human race, including myself" and who expressed his thirst for murder right up to his own execution; "The Final Days of John Paul Knowles," a.k.a. "The Final Days of the Boston Strangler," which is equally a story about Sandy Fawkes, the woman who narrowly escaped being Knowles' seventeenth victim; the last story in the collection is "The Wages of Sin,"a brief manifesto on human suffering and the people and institutions that perpetuate it (priests, scientists and military, e.g.). With the exception of "The Wages of Sin," which serves as a kind of coda to the other four stories presented, each piece is written in the first person, putting the reader into the minds of each subject. Muzzlers, Guzzlers, and Good Yeggs is presented in a handsome, compact format that resembles a Big Little Book, though one strictly for grown-ups.
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Joe Coleman lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, Whitney.From Publishers Weekly:
Coleman, best known for his nightmarish noir paintings and drawings, has produced an engaging, pocket-sized hardcover book drawn from various parts of the great American underbelly. Presented with text facing illustrations on each spread, the book consists of four stories based on real people—researched, appropriated and rewritten in the first person by Coleman—that originally appeared in the anthology Blab!, memoirs of the hobos Jack Black and Boxcar Bertha, and tales of the criminal mayhem of two psychopaths. Coleman's recreation of their authorial voices are striking, rueful, philosophical and manic, but what ties them together are are his drawings. Somewhere between Victorian engravings and folk art, they are haunting and macabre. They're not oppressively dark or gothic; rather, they hit a variety of emotional notes, just as their subjects do. As compelling as the prose is, Coleman's drawings are more so—they have a visceral effect that most words just can't match. The tiny format is fitting for a book best dipped into, rather than taken all at once, and it echoes the pulp magazines that came before it. Coleman's uncompromising, warts-and-all vision of humanity is not for everyone, but this work is still worth a good, long look. (Apr.)
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