Striking and angular illustrations – Uli Oesterle
The comic artist and illustrator Uli Oesterle loves to populate his bizarre stories with grotesque characters and figures. He finds the inspiration for his scenarios in his hometown of Munich, because right on his doorstep there’s a narcissistic subculture full of trendy types, where presenting yourself in an over-the-top style is all part of the game.
In his comic Frass (2000), Oesterle deals mercilessly and cynically with the outrageous epicurean predilections of high society. He designs his colourful and expressive images to match the eccentric pursuit of pleasure of Serafin Brûte II, a gourmet who travels all over the world looking for exquisite delicacies. A serious turn of events has consequences and clearly demonstrates that Serafin Brûte’s desire knows no bounds, as he does not draw the line even at murder.
For his trilogy Hector Umbra, the Semiautomatic Madness (Hector Umbra. Der halbautomatische Wahnsinn / 2003-2009), Oesterle, a graduate of the Munich Academy of Fashion and Design, made masterly use of the stylistic means of the detective novel and science fiction. He also enriches his abstruse and mysterious adventure by taking critical sideswipes at the widespread dissemination of conspiracy theories, the sensationalism of the media and the fashion fixation of club culture. The focal point of his stories is Hector Umbra, a painter, who goes in search of his friend DJ Osaka, who has suddenly disappeared. Umbra may have extremely strong upper arms and be built like a tank, but even he finds his physical and psychological limits during this enquiry. His investigations take him to such places as the nowhere realm of the dead and bring him face to face with unpleasant aliens. But the solution to the puzzle lies within his reach, in a piece of music that Osaka played as part of his set. Even in the gloomy scenario with the repulsive aliens, whose physiognomy is reminiscent of Caro and Jeunet’s early scratchboard comics, Oesterle manages to take issue with modern society and pop culture.
He has now received several awards for his Hector Umbra volumes, which have appeared in many different countries, including France, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Poland, Italy and Spain. Oesterle lives in Munich and earns his living as a free-lance illustrator, graphic artist, comic author and offers comic seminars on a regular basis.
His striking, angular illustrations are well worth studying, because right from the beginning important details and clues are almost incidentally placed under the reader’s nose, coming thicker and faster towards the end, and finally uniting to form a complete picture.
Matthias Schneider is a cultural scientist, freelance cultural journalist and curator of film programs and exhibitions about comics.
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Online-Redaktion
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