The tagline to this short graphic novel about Surrealist painter Rene Magritte is ‘this is not a biography’. There can be no arguing with that fact. But then anyone who was already familiar with SelfMadeHero’s Art Masters series will not find that even a tiny bit surprising. So far, in accounts of artists such as Dali, Van Gogh, Munch, Picasso, and Gauguin, this increasingly important publisher has found writers and artists capable of bringing the lives of legends to the page in fascinating and original ways.
With Magritte, they have pulled it off again. The story starts with Charles Singulier, buoyed by the potential of a promotion at work the following day, going into a shop and treating himself to a nice bowler hat. Charles is unaware, though, that this hat once belonged to Magritte. Pretty soon, his treat turns into a nightmare. As the hat becomes moulded to his head, he is introduced into an increasingly weird world in which the subjects of Magritte’s paintings come to life and take him through a whistle-stop tour of their creator’s history.
On this tour he’ll meet and fall in love with an appearing and disappearing woman, have a conversation with a half man half fish hybrid, run away from an equally alluring and terrifying naked woman with a skull for a face, and find himself floating away from his troubles to a permanent place in the sky. For fans of Magritte this will probably be a fun and whimsical trip through territory that they are already very familiar with. But Campi and Zabus also make this a pleasure for anyone unfamiliar with his work, allowing us a tantalising glimpse into the life and work of Magritte and leaving us with a desire to learn more.
Any Cop?: The beauty of this series from SelfMadeHero is the way it makes these already well known stories into something new, interesting, and original. They might not be something you could use to quote from in your dissertation, but then maybe there are enough books like that out there already. Here, we have an accessible and enjoyable interpretation of an artist’s fears, influences, and life-changing moments, presented in a fun and beautiful package. What more could you want?