A collaboration with Anthony Madrid published in the Paris Review. As part of the introduction, Madrid writes, “A few words about this presentation. The verbal part had a romantic beginning. I was obsessing over the rhythms of Korney Chukovsky’s poem ‘Telephone.’ Suddenly—very suddenly—occurred to me the first rhymes of what I thought might be an existential masterpiece: ‘Long time ago there was … a fuzz.'” View the whole article-poem-comic here.
Visual Work, Writing
Originally published as a series of minicomics, this quirky and idiosyncratic adventure of Fortuna, the greatest superhero (tragically stricken with ennui), is now collected into a single volume from Radiator Comics!
The Chronicles of Fortune follows the lives of Fortuna, and her alter-ego, Edith-May as they learn to cope with loss, recruiting a team of friends along the way! Discover a temperamental stove, a nosy mountain, a goofy crocodile, a loner moth, and a singing goldfish as they lead Fortuna on her greatest adventure! At once charming, sad, funny, poignant, and bizarre, The Chronicles of Fortune keeps one foot in mundane reality.
PRAISE FOR THE CHRONICLES OF FORTUNE
“Picard layers depth, even as the drawings themselves are single, thin lines that don’t even try to be exacting in their depictions, reminding me a lot of Eleanor Davis’ black and white comics….What’s great about that is how Picard draws the mundane (like office gossip sessions) exactly how she handles the unusual, like a thought-projecting mountain that moves in.” — Rob McMonigal, Favorite Indie Books from 2017
“Edith-May, loner and protagonist of Coco Picard’s graphic novel Chronicles of Fortune would hate cheerleaders, I imagine, as much she hates bachelorette parties, and for this (and many other reasons) I adore her.” —The Millions
“…the rarest of fictional treats: I was reluctant to leave this strange, haunting, depressing, enlivening, fantastical world.” —Optical Sloth
“In the guise of a fantastical hero comedy, The Chronicles of Fortune is a story about succumbing to and triumphing over loss and grief in all its forms…” – Hyperallergic
“The Chronicles Of Fortune stands as a confirmation of the misfit’s path in life. Not only is it okay to be different, it’s okay to look like a failure in the eyes of others. Who cares? Just you, you’re the only one who needs to care. And are you happy? That seems to be what Picard is asking.” – Comics Beat
“You should buy The Chronicles of Fortune, read it, then share it with someone you love.” – Entropy
“Alternately sweet, funny, and heartbreaking, The Chronicles of Fortune is a charming, lyrical meditation on fragile connections. Picard crafts tidy, seemingly unrelated vignettes which slowly knit themselves together into a touching and thoughtful finish.” -Sarah Becan [I Think You’re Sauceome / The Complete Ouija Interviews]
“At first seeming like a dreamlike biographical comic with a cool meditative art zine aesthetic, The Chronicles of Fortune slowly reveals a sweet blend of deceptively simple narrative devices and complex philosophical ideas while keeping a fun vibe through the entire book ride. You won’t regret injecting this book into your soul.”-Farel Dalrymple [Pop Gun War / The Wrenchies]
“I’ve never read a more whimsical meditation on death and loss. Picard weaves childlike escapism with playful symbolism in a series of melancholy vignettes that somehow overflow with love, humor, and hope.”-Ezra Claytan Daniels [Upgrade Soul]
“The unlikely adventures of an even less likely superhero, The Chronicles of Fortune unspools through history and happenstance gathering into its narrative orbit a ragtag crew of sidekicks and gadflies. Picard draws with the angles and tangles of a witty wire sculpture, and writes along an equally idiosyncratic path through frustration, friendship and loss.” -Edie Fake, [Gaylord Phoenix / Memory Palaces]
“Have you ever visualized the speech of a moth? Coco Picard has, and rendered it with her unerring expressive line, one many unembellished details in the universe of Chronicles of Fortune. Edith-May, who carries her etiolated super-hero alter-ego Fortuna like a guilty secret, wanders through territories historical, biological, imaginary, enchanted, and ordinary all at once, as she sets about rebuilding her life after the trauma that transformed her. Picard illuminates secret spaces and exquisitely captures the uncharted emotional terrains of loss experienced as a young adult. Seeing these fragile landscapes rather than defining them Chronicles journeys into odd and alluring worlds with tones and compositions that freshly glimpse grief and resilience. The Chronicles of Fortune, an illuminating achievement, ushers the comic form into the 21st century in all its post-human exuberance and uncertainty.” -Lin Hixon and Matthew Goulish [Every house has a door]
+ RELATED PODCASTS:
Challengers Podcast: “The Narrative of Comics, without Patrick or Dal: a discussion between Coco Picard (The Chronicles of Fortune), Jessica Campbell (Hot or Not), Anya Davidson (Band for Life), and Marnie Galloway (In the Sounds and Seas)
Coco Picard at Franklin Gallery
Apr 9-Mar 12, 2017
Dr. Rock transforms the Franklin Gallery into a therapist’s office where visitors are invited to sign up in advance and discuss their respective anxieties with the rock in attendance. Known for their humble stature and centuries of experience, Dr. Rock has kindly agreed to donate their services for up to three consecutive Sundays. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and schedule your free appointment today!
This exhibition is tied to the launch of Picard’s debut graphic novel ten years in the making. The Chronicles of Fortune (Radiator Comics) follows the life of Fortuna, a depressed and thus ineffectual super hero, and her alter-ego Edith-May as they spend a night on Alcatraz, discover a talking mountain growing in their apartment, befriend a crying crocodile, and are swindled into buying a $50 goldfish for its alleged singing abilities.
Praise for The Chronicles of Fortune
“The unlikely adventures of an even less likely superhero, The Chronicles of Fortune unspools through history and happenstance gathering into its narrative orbit a ragtag crew of sidekicks and gadflies. Picard draws with the angles and tangles of a witty wire sculpture, and writes along an equally idiosyncratic path through frustration, friendship and loss.” -Edie Fake (Gaylord Phoenix, Memory Palaces)
“I’ve never read a more whimsical meditation on death and loss. Picard weaves childlike escapism with playful symbolism in a series of melancholy vignettes that somehow overflow with love, humor, and hope.” -Ezra Claytan Daniels (Upgrade Soul, The Changers)
“Alternately sweet, funny, and heartbreaking, The Chronicles of Fortune is a charming, lyrical meditation on fragile connections. Picard crafts tidy, seemingly unrelated vignettes which slowly knit themselves together into a touching and thoughtful finish.” -Sarah Becan (I Think You’re Sauceome, Complete Ouija Interviews)
“at first seeming like a dreamlike biographical comic with a cool meditative art zine aesthetic, the chronicles of fortune slowly reveals a sweet blend of deceptively simple narrative devices and complex philosophical ideas while keeping a fun vibe through the entire comic book ride. you won’t regret injecting this book into your soul.” -Farel Dalrymple (Pop Gun War, The Wrenchies)
“Have you ever visualized the speech of a moth? Coco Picard has, and rendered it with her unerring expressive line, one many unembellished details in the universe of Chronicles of Fortune. Edith-May, who carries her etiolated super-hero alter-ego Fortuna like a guilty secret, wanders through territories historical, biological, imaginary, enchanted, and ordinary all at once, as she sets about rebuilding her life after the trauma that transformed her. Picard illuminates secret spaces and exquisitely captures the uncharted emotional terrains of loss experienced as a young adult. Seeing these fragile landscapes rather than defining them Chronicles journeys into odd and alluring worlds with tones and compositions that freshly glimpse grief and resilience. Chronicles of Fortune, an illuminating achievement, ushers the comic form into the 21st century in all its post-human exuberance and uncertainty.” -Lin Hixson & Matthew Goulish (Every house has a door)
About the artist:
Coco Picard is the creative pen name of Caroline Picard, an artist, writer, publisher, and curator who explores the figure in relation to systems of power, how the human relates to its environment and what possibilities might emerge from upturning an anthropocentric world view. Her critical writing has appeared in publications like ArtForum (critics picks), Flash Art International, Hyperallergic, Paper Monument, The Seen, and e-flux’s live blog. In 2014, she was the Curatorial Fellow at La Box, ENSA in France, and became a member of the SYNAPSE International Curators’ Network of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin in 2015. She is the Executive Director of The Green Lantern Press—a nonprofit publishing house and art producer in operation since 2005—and Co-Director of Sector 2337, a hybrid artspace/bar/bookstore in Logan Square. www.cocopicard.com
About the Publisher:
Radiator Comics distributes, promotes, and publishes small-press, hand-made, and self-published comics books, graphic novels, and zines. Through its distro, Radiator Comics represents over 50 alternative comics artists from around the country, providing titles to individuals, stores, and educational institutions. Radiator Comics is run by Neil Brideau who has been involved with the self-publishing and comics communities for over a decade. The Chronicles of Fortune is Radiator Comics’ first book. www.radiatorcomics.com
I got a chance to make a graphic review of Rebecca Beachy’s recent show at New Capital. It was published on Hyperallergic here.
I am happy to be in another issue of Seven Stories Graphic Canon compilation — this one is about crime (!!!) and includes two stories combined – Takase Bune by Mori Ōgai about a criminal being taken to an island of exile; the second is The Ballad of Reading Gaol, a poem by Oscar Wilde that reflects his encounters with capital punishment and prison.
A review in comic form of Every house has a door’s performance at The Comfort Station, published by Hyperallergic in October, 2015. This performance was organized in conjunction with the Chicago Architectural Biennial and curated by Tricia Van Eck.
D Gallery, 636 S Wabash, ste. 722, Chicago IL .:. Opening Reception Friday Nov 8, 12:45-1:45 .:. Exhibition runs through January 2013.
Hijacking the 9-5 office of Philip von Zweck’s D Gallery, I installed a series of visual models, notes and computations in an effort to trace the transformative animal potential in art and space. These notes entertain the Anthropocene, the End Times, and the limits of human imagination, drawing unreasonable speculations out into models of structured, institutional space.
“This is what happened at 3400 feet — we had reached a stand of red wood trees in an area that had never been cut and my ears popped.” Lyn Hejinian, My Life
“This is what makes the world…I believe this to be the fundamental dynamic. Transition. The point where one thing becomes another. It is what makes you, the city, the world, what they are. And that is the theme that I’m interested in. The zone where the disparate become the whole. The hybrid zone.” China Miéville, Perdido Street Station
“Insofar as the animal knows neither being nor nonbeing, neither open nor closed, it is outside of being; it is outside in an intimacy more internal than any closedness. To let the animal be would then mean: to let it be outside of being.” Giorgio Agamben, The Open: Man and Animal
I saw, or thought I saw, or have convinced myself I saw a vastness that dwarfed the desert sky. A yawning gap of Leviathan proportions… Spread across the emptiness, streaming away from us with cavernous perspective in all directions and dimensions, encompassing lifetimes and hugeness with each intricate knot of metaphysical substance, was a web. It’s substance was known to me. The crawling infinity of colors, the chaos of textures that went into each strand of that eternally complex tapestry…each one resonated under the step of the dancing mad god, vibrating and sending echoes of bravery, or hunger, or architecture, or argument, or cabbage or murder or concrete across the aether. The weft of a starlings’ motivations connected to the thick, sticky strand of a young thief’s laugh… The plait disappeared into the enormity of possible spaces. (1)
A transcendental spider with many, tiny, human hands haunts the pages of China Mieville’s book, Perdido Street Station. Humans call this beast “The Weaver,” other species “The Mad Dancing God.” It is unpredictable, and makes few appearances in the book; its speech is barely rational. In one instance, however, it picks up a group of protagonists, pulls them behind their material world (a world largely in step with any of our contemporary cities) through a portal, and into an entirely other dimension. Our protagonists marvel at the discovery at this space — it defies comprehension and can later be relayed only as a dream, or feeling of vastness. This new dimension contains the prior, familiar, urban one, while simultaneously containing countless others. It is like a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the score of Life. Befitting a spider, it evidently looks like a web.
While Miéville’s account takes place on a fantastic scale within the pages of science fiction, it has resonances in our, relatively, banal world as well. Consider, for instance, the work of Jacob von Uexküll, who devised schematic diagrams of world views according to various species. Every creature has an “umwelt” — “the environment-world that is constituted by a more or less broad series of elements that he calls ‘carriers of significance’” or “the only things that interest the animal.”  This umwelt is the epicenter of any creature’s experience; it defines the way that creature filters and engages its environment. The umwelt is defined by a creature’s sensory abilities — what kind of light does it see, for instance? — its biological needs — what does it eat and where does its food typically reside — and anatomical constraints — can this creature fly, for instance, and how does that automatically limit or expand its desires? These countless conditions, drives, capacities filter that creature’s sense of the world to such an extent that whatever lies beyond it’s grasp may as well not exist. In a chapter of Agamben’s The Open, for instance, some of Uexküll’s study on a tick is recounted: a tick given no opportunity to fulfill itself and attempt to feed on warm blood lays dormant in a laboratories for 18 years.
…(for the tick), the Umwelt is reduced to only three carriers of significance (1) The odor of butyric acid, which emanates from the sebaceous follicles of all mammals, (2) The temperature of 37 degrees (corresponding to the blood of all mammals), (3) The (hairy typology of mammals)… It would therefore be impossible for any single creature to get beyond its own umwelt in order to see the “bigger picture.” I like the Miéville’s passage because we get a first-hand, albeit fictional, account of what stepping outside an umwelt might look like. The narrator expresses confusion, fascination, deep feeling and recognition for the strange landscape before his eyes. “It’s substance was known to me,” he says. But it is so far outside his experience, he cannot absorb, process, and remember what he sees. The Weaver’s “web” defies his semiotic capacity.
Morton champions species fluidity. In The Ecological Thought (University of Harvard Press, 2010), he refers to animals as “strange strangers” and addresses the way we characterize our relationship to the world, describing its origins and shortcomings within Darwinian philosophy. For Morton, the primary affect created by our encounter with non-human life is a sense of the uncanny. A creature returns our gaze, breathes and reacts; it appears to possess familiar feelings. Yet it is also irretrievably Other: we face the near impossibility of forming a cognitive relationship with it. According to Morton, the more we examine our environment, the more this feeling of the uncanny persists, particularly as we try to trace out a narrative of progress wherein one species leads to the next. “All organisms are monsters insofar as they arechimeras, made from pieces of other creatures.” Perhaps as a way to temper that feeling of unnerving estrangement, and in an effort to comprehend (and codify) our environment, we have historically developed intricate systems of classification, parsing this plant from that animal. This system is so convincing, so absorbing in its complexity, rarely do we experience the bounds of our own umwelt. Still, those systems are unstable and largely arbitrary. Rather than living in a neat system of one species versus another, the borders between species are porous and constantly shifting. In fact, we are so aware of the interconnected nature of things (different species, habitats, climates, etc.) that the background and foreground become murky. Morton likens this to an ever changing “mesh” of which all creatures are a part. “The mesh isn’t a background against which the strange stranger appears. It is the entanglement of all strangers.” In that mesh we see the image of Nature, not as an over-yonder place, outside of humanity, but rather a realm that humankind occupies and shares with all species; this myriad tempest of life, “the mesh” of which we are a part, is comprised by ever changing, inescapable, messy borders. read more