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Von Spatz


Von Spatz Von Spatz

Von Spatz back

Anna Haifisch

Price: 
12.99

Page 45 Review by Jonathan

"2pm. Penguin service. I hate touching fish.
"One of the penguins wanted me to slap him with a herring.
"Earlier I saw a little yellow leg peeping from under the blanket.
"Is it possible that Spongebob is here?
"If I wasn't drawing, I would live vicious and would be a danger to society. Thus, I'm drawing."

Walt Disney is having a nervous breakdown which requires hospitalisation in a mental institution - sorry, recuperating mini-break - at the Von Spatz Rehab Centre, entirely populated by other sensitive, artistic types, such as Tomi Ungerer and Saul Steinberg. Both of whom, I will be perfectly honest, I needed to Google...

The fact that Walt seems to be imagining himself dispensing a fishy spanking to a penguin probably is the clincher that he's not quite in his right mind. That he believes he has spied Spongebob Squarepants, hiding away depressed under a duvet, should be the giveaway that this is a not a real biographical chapter in the life of the pioneering animator.

I don't know exactly what this is. I don't know why Walt is portrayed with an enormous cowboy hat, either. I like it a lot though.

Anna Haifisch is definitely not all there, in the best possible tradition of celebrated comics obscurants like Michael STICKS ANGELICA, FOLK HERO DeForge and George GHOSTS, ETC. Wysol. In fact, if you are a fan of their gloriously incongruent, clashing colour palettes and determinedly unreconstructed illustration styles, you will love this work. It's a real talent to make such unusual artwork seem perfectly normal and flow pleasingly across the eye, before then smashing your synapses to smithereens once lodged in the grey matter.

If your brain, like mine, is so inclined to allow such weirdness in, you will certainly find yourself delighted and perplexed in equal measure as Walt's struggle to find his way back to normality becomes an increasingly surreal odyssey of testing artistic endeavours such as making a mini-comic and bemused, apathetic self-reflective commentary on his condition.

I also believe there is a wonderfully solipsistic aspect to the Von Spatz Clinic, if I have understood a certain clue and interpreted the ending correctly. Which I probably haven't. It's more likely I'm seeing something that isn't there, like a pervy penguin, but I think I might be right. In any event, once Walt is sufficiently... recovered... to return to the real world and the Disney studios, is he prepared for what he will find...?

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