Ambiguous and mysterious – Markus Huber

Markus Huber’s work isn’t instantly accessible to the reader for it is ambiguous and mysterious: the Hamburg-based comic artist and illustrator doesn’t provide any direct connection between his words and images. Instead he prefers to maintain as large a distance between them content-wise as possible, offering only tenuous links. Text and illustration can be read and understood independently of one another as each contains its own content. In spite of the disparity, or perhaps because of it, the reader becomes party to an additional layer of meaning through this particular combination of text and image. Those publications by Huber that can be classified as belonging to the comic genre give the impression that for him the comic form is but one of many possibilities for telling stories through pictures. He likes to work on the edges of the comic genre, in illustration in particular, but also in other creative fields, such as his set-design for the play Disco Pigs in the Theaterhaus Stuttgart.

His Nichts von Bedeutung (‘Nothing of Importance’) is, for example, not ‘only’ a comic but also the illustrated lyrics of four songs by the one-time Hamburg band ‘Waldorf und Statler’. The reader is launched into a fantastically distorted cosmos of images that depicts the world as seen through a concave mirror. With bold brushwork Huber lends his objects and characters big, spiky contours and takes his time to lead the reader to the protagonist of one of his stories. While the text quickly discloses the inner thoughts of the main figure, the outer appearance is disclosed only gradually. Nor is there any obvious direction to facilitate the reader’s path through the individual frames as the pictures vacillate between pictorial detail and close-ups.

His second longest comic story, Ein Ausflug nach Saturnia (‘An Outing to Saturnia’), is about the grotesque group dynamics during a three-day house-warming party at a holiday house in Tuscany in all their combinations. Successful young artists and entrepreneurs rub shoulders with failed existences and self-obsessed unworldly artists.

Huber’s attention isn’t primarily focussed on the narrative but rather tuned into the emotional world of his characters. He dams the flow of words and encourages the reader to pause and come up with his or her own thoughts and associations to go with the visual script of the stories. It takes time to locate the individual fragments and the reader can lose himself in his own world of experience. This is the particular strength of Markus Huber’s oeuvres: they can be read universally but also allow each reader a very personal reading experience.

Matthias Schneider
is a cultural researcher and freelance cultural journalist.
He also designs film programmes and exhibitions on the theme of comics.

Copyright: Goethe-Institut Stockholm
Mail Symbolinfo@stockholm.goethe.org
May 2007