by Ray Fenwick

Hall of Best Knowledge

It’s finally here- the much anticipated collection of Ray Fenwick’s Hall of Best Knowledge! Through this beautiful square book “the author”, clearly a genius, teaches us the lessons of life- death, spirituality, what a metaphor is (“a handsome puzzle-talk…used by intellectuals who have become bored with the limiting and restrained nature of ‘plain discourse’ “). Some of these lessons make me smile and some of them make me laugh outloud and every one of them amazes me further at what a talent Ray is. Each lesson gets it’s own page elaborately hand-lettered, decorated with patterns of scrolls, roman pillars, pretty swirly things and little illustrations. The Hall of Best Knowledge title is written in the same place on every page but on each page it’s in a different typeface and surrounded by different amazing ornate detailing. There is not one page that is even close to similar to another page in this book and it surely makes me in awe of Ray’s abilities to compose type. How could he think of so many ways to display his text- hidden inside pattern, hanging from trees, in charts and graphs, in bursts, in banners? And then there is the number of different typefaces he’s using- scripts, simple serifs, 3-d letters, old gothic styles- I don’t think anyone could argue that he not a true master at hand-lettering. I’m not sure what I would categorize this book- fine art, design, comics- because each would work. Fantagraphics calls it a graphic novel but it’s so different from anything I’ve ever known- it seems to deserve a new genre. Ray continues to impress and inspire me with everything he does, more recently- illustrations for the NY Times, letterpress cards, prints and coasters and drawings combining the words of Dr.Strange & Karl Langerfeld- i love it! Congrats Ray! and thank you Fantagraphics! Everyone should get this book! here.

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