As Orson Welles and Terry Gilliam have film adaptations of Don Quixote as their great incomplete masterworks; Al Columbia has Pim And Francie. A work over 15 years in the making, and never now likely to be ‘finished’, the pieces of it have been assembled as Pim & Francie: The Golden Bear Days (Fantagraphics Books, 2009).
This gorgeous grimoire is part alchemy, part art book, part storybook, part comic book, and part conceptual art from the pen of Al Columbia, a longtime fan favorite contributor to comics anthologies like Zero Zero, Blab!, and more recently, Mome. Collecting over a decade’s worth of ‘artifacts,’ excavations, comic strips, animation stills, storybook covers, and much more, this broken jigsaw puzzle of a book tells the story of Pim & Francie, a pair of childlike, male and female imps whose irresponsible antics get them into horrific, fantastic trouble. Their loosely defined relationship only contributes to the existential fear that lingers underneath the various perils they are subjected to. Columbia’s brilliant, fairytale-like backdrops hint at further layers of reality lurking under every gingerbread house or behind every sunny afternoon. Never have such colorful, imaginative vistas instilled such an atmosphere of dread, and with such a wicked sense of humor.
This is a comprehensive collection of Columbia’s Pim & Francie work, including paintings, comics, character designs, and much more, all woven into something greater than the sum of its parts, with Pim & Francie careening from danger to danger, threaded together through text and notes by the artist.
Al is an old friend and contributor to Wow Cool. You may best know his work from the Postal Service LP Give Up or from his stage sets for David Cross’s live show. Al has also been making his own music and videos; and has also remained active in comicbooks, contributing stories to several well respected anthology titles.
Al Columbia Official Website: The latest from Al, with much great music and video.
Fantagraphics’ Pim & Francie page: includes 20 page preview of the book.
UPDATE: Al will be doing a promotional tour for the book Starting November 7th in Seattle.