Catching Up With Retrofit: New Antoine Cossé, And Olivier Schrauwen’s ‘Mowgli’s Mirror’
It's always the way isn't it? The very day I put in my order for a Spanish edition of Belgian artist Olivier Schrauwen's Mowgli's Mirror, Retrofit announce they'll be publishing it in English next year, as part of their 2015 line-up. That's a really nice acquisition for Retrofit, who have been going from strength to strength since their inception, with their slate for next year looking especially strong with books from Andrew Lorenzi, Kate Leth, Laura Knetzger, Laura Lannes, Maré Odomo, Matt Madden, Sophie Franz, Yumi Sakugawa, and Steven Weissmann.
Schrauwen is widely considered to be one of the most inventive and original cartoonists today, generally working in a style that is reminiscent of classic American newspaper comics, creating bizarre characters and situations imbued with sharp humor, that contrast with the traditional illustrations depicted. Mowgli's Mirror is a silent tale about a meeting between a man and a monkey. Mowgli comes across an orangutan in the jungle, and finds the behaviour and manners of the animal are not far removed from his, sparking an interaction between man and beast that gives rise to questions regarding evolution and human/animal relations. Originally published in 2011, both the Spanish and French editions were printed in beautiful, two-color offset albums, with silk-screened covers. More Schrauwen is only ever a good thing, and here's hoping Retrofit will give the book a similar premier treatment.
In the meantime, Retrofit have just released a multi-page preview of their latest offering: a new book by French artist Antoine Cossé, and it looks pretty great. Titled Harold, the black and white watercolor features a human/anthropomorphic world in which a mysterious man and his chauffeur-cum-bodyguard, Harold, wait in their outside a luxury hotel. Wild dogs roam in the city outside, mirroring the horde of paparazzi surrounding the hotel gates, eager for a picture of the princess reportedly staying inside. As they wait, Harold begins to tell the tale of the rebellion against the princess's father, unraveling mysteries of the past amidst the odd landscape they currently inhabit.
As an appreciator of Cossé's work, I was on board for this already, and it looks to be even more intriguingly set-up than anticipated, combining several elements of interest: a bottle episode situation, a princess, a curious human animal world, all of it nicely tilted to match Cossé's slightly barren, surreal art. At 56 pages, this has the potential to be the standout amongst Retrofit's releases this year.