Hall of Best Knowledge

Overview

A wildly original—and hilarious—debut.
Ray Fenwick has pioneered his own medium of storytelling, one best described as "typographical comics." Hall of Best Knowledge is presented as a handsome, personal journal written by an unnamed voice, referred to only as "The Author." Little is known about him; he makes occasional, derogatory references to a twin brother and younger sibling, but reveals little else. He clearly fashions himself a genius, writing with a faux-aristocratic air,...

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Overview

A wildly original—and hilarious—debut.
Ray Fenwick has pioneered his own medium of storytelling, one best described as "typographical comics." Hall of Best Knowledge is presented as a handsome, personal journal written by an unnamed voice, referred to only as "The Author." Little is known about him; he makes occasional, derogatory references to a twin brother and younger sibling, but reveals little else. He clearly fashions himself a genius, writing with a faux-aristocratic air, and it is presumably his belief in his own genius that leads him to want to share his knowledge with the world. Each page features information such as "It hardly needs mentioning that riding a pony is no intellectual triumph.... If riding a pony is so fantastic, why have I never read of any renowned pony-riding genius? It is because such a person does not exist, making it a foolish waste of time unworthy of attention." These pearls of wisdom are lettered in an elegant, almost obsessive fashion, entirely hand-crafted and bedecked with Ionic columns and fleurs-de-lis.
It becomes obvious to the reader early on that all is not as it seems; only at the end does the picture become completely clear. The ensuing journey is a riotous tour through the narrator's ego and id, and the humor builds accordingly as he is revealed to be not nearly as smart—or sophisticated—as he thinks.Hall of Best Knowledge is part graphic novel, part art object, part satire, part puzzle. The slow unfolding of the author and his story builds humor with each page, creating a peculiar examination of the idea of genius and the problems that arise in the search and transmission of knowledge.HOBK will be an elegantly designed and packaged book, presented as a found journal, with rounded fore edges, a belly band, and other production/design touches to further solidify and give form to the concept of the book.

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Editorial Reviews

Ray Olson - Booklist
“This is a life-passage story that reveals itself as such so slyly that the joy and loving humility it evokes at the end are breathtaking.”
Steven Heller
While it's fun to read Fenwick's witty disquisitions…the real joy of the book is the variety of quirky scrawls. Each tableau is rendered in pen and ink in a different lettering style; some mimic classic typefaces, while others are more imaginative and ornate. Not calligraphy in the traditional sense, these contemporary illuminated manuscripts are a new twist on the old art of lettering.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Claiming to be "complete and boundless," Fenwik's Hall of Best Knowledge contains a fountain of information on subjects from babies to God and even fencing. The problem that dooms the book from the get-go is the lack of clarity on how this information is supposed to be taken and the identity of the mysterious author, who both examines the musculature of ancient man and addresses Santa. Toward the end of this largely tiring collection of talk is a letter that seems to solve the mystery of the this seeming diary and its origins. The individual pages are beautifully designed, each with an eccentric and sometimes agitated typeface that appears to be custom designed, leading to the birth of "typographical comics." The end result is like being stuck at a dinner party with a know-it-all blowhard armed with a croquille pen and a bottle of india ink. While an attractive object for lettering fans, the end result is more clever in its concept than the execution: Fenwik is a talented designer, but his writing is much less sparkling. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560979104
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
  • Publication date: 4/28/2008
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 7.60 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Ray Fenwick is an artist, illustrator and typographic thing-maker living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. A former improv comedian and theater school dropout, Ray now occupies himself making drawings, comics and patterns for people like Blue Q, CMT, If'n Books, Nickelodeon, Urban Outfitters, and others. He regularly appears in Fantagraphics' flagship anthology, MOME.

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