Book Review: Modern Arf
Cover of "Modern Arf"
Cover of Modern Arf

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This is the first volume of Craig Yoe‘s Arf series I’ve read (and the first in the series) — but I can tell I’m going to look for the others, Arf Museumalt, Arf Forumalt, and Comic Arfalt. The subtitle of the series is “The Unholy Marriage Of Art And Comics”; Modern Arf looks at both comics work from famous artists like Salvadore Dali and Picasso, but work from cartoonists from all eras — from Milt Gross and Jimmy Hatlo, from Jack Kirby, Dan DeCarlo and Wally Wood, up to Patrick McDonnell, the brilliant artist behind Mutts. (If you don’t recognize these names, you certainly know their work; Hatlo created They’ll Do It Every Time!, Dan DeCarlo is responsible for the iconic look of the Archie characters, and seriously, if you don’t know Gross, Kirby or Wood…

Yoe is not only a talented artist and writer (and whose own work is featured in the second article of Modern Arf), but a comics historian with knowledge that spans pretty much all of comics’ creation. Aside from the big names, there’s articles on Hy Mayer, a cartoonist for Puck, Antonio Rubino, an early Italian cartoonist, not to mention an article on the origins of Mad‘s Alfred E. Neuman — featuring loads of the advertising postcards Proto-Neumans could be found upon.

I’m not sure if Modern Arf would appeal to someone not already into comics or artwork — or, ideally both — but it’s an incredibly interesting read if you are interested in those topics; and if you’re interested in art, but not comics, it might just open your eyes to seeing what the comics medium can do; not to mention that it’s a beautiful volume, so just the design of the book would probably tickle your art-appreciation bone anyway.

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