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Jacob Bladders and the State of the Art
by Roman Muradov

ISBN: 978-1-941250-10-5
6 x 8.375 inches, 54 pages, b&w, hardcover

$16.99


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“Forget about pens being mightier than swords. Roman Muradov’s pen is more like an exploding bomb. There is so much graphic innovation in this book that Muradov can hardly contain it in a panel. It’s exciting to see this much talent let loose on a piece of white paper. Beauty and chaos in perfect harmony.” — SETH, Author of Palookaville

Jacob Bladders, illustrator, braggart, and victim of assault by thugs sent by the mysterious Charlie. Part satire of commercial art, part noirish detective, part puzzle to be solved… or left in pieces. Roman Muradov's forgotten 1948 classic is an ink-smeared Blakean vision of 1940s New York where twitter exists as a network of pneumatic tubes, but artwork is still delivered by hand.

Roman Muradov (née Muradyan) was born in Baku in 1917. He traveled extensively through USSR, working as a petroleum engineer and submitting his illustrated poems to various Soviet and émigré magazines. His self-published Zhelty Zhurnal attracted the attention of Saul Steinberg, who persuaded the New Yorker editor-in-chief Harold Ross to secure a passage for Muradyan to the United States in 1942.

In November of 1947 Muradov had an altercation with Peter Arno, a colleague at the New Yorker, who pressed a pistol against Muradov’s stomach and accused him of being “not a good American.” This incident caused a nervous collapse, from which Muradov never recovered.

He dedicated the remaining year of his life to drawing Jacob Bladders and the State of the Art. According to a private letter, written in 1943, he’d been planning the “graphic novella” (first written use of the term) since his first week at the New Yorker. Fueled by tobacco and alcohol, he worked on the heavily smudged pages at nights, allowing himself only two hours of sleep.
Muradov died of ulcerative colitis in October of 1949, two days after delivering the manuscript to his publisher.

"But also cartooning, also comix here—Muradov’s jutting anarchic tangles, often recoiling from the panel proper, recall George Herriman’s seminal anarcho-strip Krazy Kat. (Whether or not Muradov intends such allusions is not the point at all. Rather, what we see here is a continuity of the form’s best energies). Like Herriman’s strip, Muradov’s tale moves under the power of its own dream logic (more of a glide here than Herriman’s manic skipping)."—Biblioklept

"The State Of The Art also reflects his current concern with a kind of parallax aesthetic, seemingly clear but just out of grasp. In a panel, a figure may be clear, but read with the kind of gusto the book invites, images quickly blur into one another; speech balloons from one panel appear to be picked up by a different character in another, and curlicue dialogue trails off or is irredeemably smeared by ink. Muradov builds The State Of The Art on non sequitur, elision, and circumlocution."—Onion A.V. Club

 

Jacob Bladders and the State of the Art by Roman Muradov