huge-quiffed schlemiel

In Sunday’s NYT Book Review, a piece by Douglas Wolk (“Dreams of Youth: Lynda Barry’s ‘Blabber Blabber Blabber’ and More”) with the delicious expression “huge-quiffed schlemiel” in it, in a review of a retrospective of Dutch artist Joost Swarte‘s cartoons.

The review:

The Dutch artist and designer Joost Swarte has a tremendous reputation among cartoon-art aficionados, given his tiny body of comics work. The answer to the title of his 40-year retrospective, IS THAT ALL THERE IS? (Fantagraphics, $35), is: “Pretty much, yeah.” The dozens of strips translated here are chronologically scrambled, shuffling Swarte’s taboo-popping early work with later, subtler formal experiments. Some stories vaguely follow the contours of old adventure comics, some are smutty gags (like a vignette involving a retirement community for used condoms), and many are just excuses for his favorite character, the huge-quiffed schlemiel Jopo De Pojo, to stumble from one scene to the next. Plot is beside the point. Swarte is more concerned with formal purity, and with making the deep structures of cartooning visible. He pares his art to mechanical, hard-edged vectors and curves: caricature triple-distilled into symbolic visual shorthand, with every line canted just so. His geometrically precise, nearly architectural drawings are the bridge between the Tintin creator Hergé and contemporary artists like Chris Ware, who wrote this volume’s foreword.

Here’s Jopo and his quiff:

The quiff is Jopo’s hairstyle. For discussion of the word, with illustrations of the hairstyle from real life and from Hergé’s creation Tintin, see “Quiffs and anglicization”, here.

4 Responses to “huge-quiffed schlemiel”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    This comment went to “Quiffs and anglicization”, but belongs here. From Joost Swarte:

    Dear mr. Zwicky,

    At the time I created my character Jopo de Pojo, I had the Marx Brothers in mind. It is smart how the brothers created their personal identity (aside from their roles and acting) by strong personal physics. When I started Jopo , I created also the Bros Interessimo (see my book page page 97).
    You see there a black Tintin, a Happy Hooligan, a Groucho director, etc.

    Jopo in fact was the schlemiel and the most stereotype of them all.
    His golfpants come from Tintin, the badge on his shirt from Krazy Kat.
    His round head from early Disney characters like Bucky Bug.
    As he is a musiclover, I composed his head from elements from a musical note: The note is his head, I left out the stick and placed the flag of the
    1/16 note on his head as a quiff.

    Thanks for having this discussion on your blog,
    Kindest regards, Joost Swarte

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Wow. It’s always a pleasure to talk with cartoonists about what they do. Interesting to hear about the musical connections to Jopo. (But is the flag of the note really a 16th note — a double flag — or an 8th note?)

  2. joost swarte Says:

    Dear mr. Zwicky,

    I thought the 16th is closer on how I draw the quiff, a black flag, with a space between the outline and the black flag, but the 8th is good to me too. Again, kindest regards, Joost Swarte

  3. More quiffs « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] see here (and here); and on Joost Swarte’s character Jopo and his (gigantic) quiff, see here. Bechtel/Mo’s quiff is quite modest in comparison. Here’s Bechdel drawing […]

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