The Flowering Nose
The late, great Seth Fisher is unquestionably one of the favorite comics creators of all of us here at Are You a Serious Comic Book Reader?. Fisher's unmistakable design aesthetic, equal parts Moebius-esque clear-line realism and Japanese pop-art whimsy, was a touchstone in my own transition from occasional reader of culturally approved "graphic novels" to dyed-in-the-wool comics enthusiast. From the loopy philosophical questioning of Green Lantern: Willworld (written by J. M. DeMatteis), to Fantastic Four / Iron Man: Big in Japan's (written by Zeb Wells) shamelessly optimistic collision of Japanese and American pop-culture, Seth could be counted on to shed new artistic light onto familiar comics territory.
Fisher's untimely death in January 2006 was a great loss for the comics world and especially for those readers who had honed in on his peculiar genius. But while there may not be any new Fisher illustrated projects to look forward to, fans of his work can go to The Flowering Nose, where for the better part of two years Seth's mother Vicki has been steadily engaging in a public project of considering Seth's work through his various completed and unrealized projects.
The Flowering Nose is a labor of artistic love with few referents in our cultural history. One perhaps thinks of John Kennedy Toole's grieving mother making her way undauntedly to the office of Walker Percy committed to demonstrating the brilliance of her late son's work. The really unique part about reading Vicki's posts is that allows one to take part in a process of learning about the craft of comics illustration through the works and words of one of the medium's true masters. As Vicki says in her blogger profile, "it turns out that the process of looking carefully enough at his work to write about it is teaching me many things about illustrating in general, and about my son's amazing work in particular. To my chagrin, I never realized before just HOW good it is on so many levels."
Motherly regrets aside, it is this process of learning about craft that makes reading Vicki's posts the unique experience that it is. Several times weekly, Vicki pulls material from Seth's considerable corpus and shares with us her own conversations with Seth about his creative process and his influences. Regular readers of Vicki's blog learn how the Mos Eisley bar scene in Star Wars influenced Seth's illustration of a particular scene from Willworld or how Antonio Gaudí's alien-organic designs became a major influence on Seth's art.
Over the past four days, Vicki treated readers to Lift, a four-page wordless story by Seth originally published in Heavy Metal, one page at a time. Clearly anyone interested in Seth's work could easily pick up that issue of Heavy Metal for very little money. Vicki's readers, however, not only get to experience the story through the blog's generally high quality images, but they also get Vicki's insight into how this story was related to a larger project Seth had originally envisioned for television or cinema, and this part of what makes The Flowering Nose one of the highly polished gems of the internet.