Reviews and Press Releases
Renee French

Press Release for Marbles In My Underpants - The Renee French Collection

"Dark with cross-hatching and stippling, French's feverishly detailed
drawings recall the paintings of the American surrealist Ivan
Albright...her stories are set in a twilight zone where the gross and the
grotesque are given free reign. For once, that shopworn adjective,
"surreal," is well earned."

- Mark Dery, World Art Magazine

"As I stared at the scene French had so meticulously rendered, I felt
myself drawn into emotional territory I hadn't realized was there. I'm not
talking about recovered memory, hippie liberation, or good old catharsis.
Just the compelling realization that, past the edge of whatever I don't want to
think about, there's more."

- Ann Powers, The Village Voice

"The intensity of expression of French's characters, and the uncanny
sensitivity of the drawing, allow her work to cut disturbingly deep."

- Nicholas Blechman (art director of the Op-Ed page of NY Times) for
Strapazin Magazine

What’s lurking under the bed? Who’s casting that shadow outside my
window? Common questions children ask themselves in the dead of night.
But what if, instead of those rather innocuous queries, the child asks
things like: What’s inside this bunny that makes him move? What if I put
a raisin in a dead man’s nose? If I leave the paw of a deceased mole in
the sun, will it grow sprouts and fungus like potatoes? This is the
world of Renée French, who’s independent comic book stories have been
disturbing readers and provoking reactions since the early ‘90s. Oni’s
hefty collection, MARBLES IN MY UNDERPANTS, is the first major volume of
her work to be published anywhere. It’s a comprehensive retrospective,
examining French’s versatility and the spectrum of her career from the
harsh early work up to CORNY’S FETISH, a touching tale of a deaf man and
his desire for love. Through horror, psychedelia, and, ultimately, a
skewed approach to conventional storytelling, French gets to the dark
middle of the human psyche, crafting a truly unique comic-book experience.

Renée French made a fast name for herself as one of the most bizarre
creators on the underground comics scene with her Fantagraphics
miniseries GRIT BATH. A controversial comic filled with disturing images
and unforgettable horror stories, it earned French a devoted following
of artists and comics fans alike. She followed this with two longer,
more self-contained works, THE NINTH GLAND and CORNY’S FETISH, that both
expanded the tone of her work to include more character depth and saw
her branching out artistically, experimenting with traditional comics
storytelling and painted gray tones. At the same time, she produced
shorter works for anthologies like ZERO ZERO and DARK HORSE PRESENTS and
mainstream media publications, including Seattle’s renowned THE
STRANGER. Her long association with Penn & Teller has resulted in
several projects including illustrations for their book HOW TO PLAY IN
COMICS JOURNAL AND SIREN. She is currently working on the children’s book
for adults and children, THE SOAP LADY for Top Shelf Productions and an as
yet untitled graphic novel for Oni Press.

Top Shelf News Flash for The Soap Lady
Top Shelf is proud to announce the signing of Reneé French’s latest graphic novel,
THE SOAP LADY. Inspired by an actual mummy that resides in the Mutter Museum in
Philadelphia, THE SOAP LADY is a clever tale about a creature made entirely of soap
who befriends a small child. Exploring the eternal theme of "not judging a book by its
cover," this graphic novel will appeal to everyone, adults and children alike. Whether
you're a fan of Frankenstein, bubble baths, ventriloquist dummies, or all three, you won't
want to miss this beautiful -- and yes, creepy -- tale of friendship and betrayal.
Definitely Reneé French’s most detailed and gorgeous work to date. Scheduled for release
in Spring 2001.

New York Times Review of Swiss Institute Show
"The comic book as serious entertainment - as art, even - has its
passionate devotees. Yet it remains a problematic form that rarely
rivals good fiction or film for narrative richness.

That said, this exhibition of 14 comic book artists from the United
States, Canada and Switzerland is terrific. Paradoxically, the show works
because it is more than just an exhibition of comic books. At stages within
a long, mazelike corridor walled in by suspended plastic panels, each
artist has produced his or her own solo installation, expanding their
ideas, in most cases, into three dimensions.

In the first room, Thomas Ott and Daniel Affolter have produced in
loving detail the wonderfully filthy, dark and claustrophobic apartment of
a fictive aging Mafioso with Mr. Ott's gothic, scratchboard portraits
of family members adorning the walls. In the next space Renée French
presents a series of separately framed, postcard-size portraits of bizarre
imaginary characters, like a mush-headed mutant in a paisley sweater,
rendered in pencil with exquisite refinement.

Highlights along the rest of the way include the work of Julie Doucet,
who makes aggressively funky, ribald character studies on small sheets of
graph paper; David Mazzucchelli, whose clean modernistic pages tell the
story of a man on an obsessive mission to eradicate pubic hair; Kevin Pyle,
whose exposés of secret government medical programs are the show's
most urgently political efforts; and Carrie Golus, who draws and writes
diaristic, adolescent narratives with deft and touching simplicity. All of
this may not rescue the comic book from its juvenile associations, but it
makes a persuasive case for the medium's rich, maybe limitless potential.

Ken Johnson, Art in Review, The New York Times, Friday, July 28, 2000, page
I'm still putting this page together...more to come...