Additional Book Information
Series: New York Review Comics
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
by Hariton Pushwagner, introduction by Chris Ware, afterword by Martin Herbert
The legendary Norwegian pop artist Pushwagner’s scathing comics masterpiece—lost for decades, and never before published in the U.S.—is an epic vision of a single day in a world gone wrong: a brightly smiling, disturbingly familiar dystopia of towering skyscrapers, omnipresent surveillance, and endless distant war. “CLEAN BOMB THE HAPPY WAY,” blares the morning paper. “Heil Hilton!” barks an overlord on the news.
Welcome to Soft City. Now don’t be late for work.
Click to enlarge images
Created by the Norwegian artist Hariton Pushwagner between 1969 and 1975, then unseen for decades, the astonishing cartoon treatise Soft City has finally arrived in the United States. Its oversize pages depict city life as an identity-annihilating, cookie-cutter horror, observed by a baby named Bingo.
—Douglas Wolk, The New York Times Book Review
This lost work, now published in an oversize hardback edition, comes as an aesthetic revelation...Echoing Ulysses in its one-day structure, and Kafka in its humorous yet cutting condemnation of bureaucratic systems, this book sweeps up the reader in vast yet minimalist panoramas emphasizing the visual monotony of tasks such as going to work and buying one’s daily bread...this book will delight fans of experimental and visually lush graphic novels.
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
Soft City is Norwegian pop artist Pushwagner’s frenetic, prophetic masterpiece…breathtaking and damning in equal measure.
—Sean Rogers, The Globe and Mail
Soft City is a compelling storehouse of midcentury anxieties. Even if these anxieties are no longer quite the same—if we now inhabit a world in which the absence of work is more terrifying than its overbearing presence—there is still value to Pushwagner’s vision…Soft City turned an era’s apprehensions into art.
—Brad Prager, Los Angeles Review of Books
It feels remarkably ahead of its time, its masterful one-point perspective and slightly quivering line feeling like a mixture of alien observer, infant child, and security camera shooting in 70mm. Filmic analogies would compare it to 2001, Jacques Tati, or Koyaanisqatsi.
—Brian Nicholson, The Comics Journal
The images are simple, but there’s something seething behind them, perhaps the passion of an artist possessed of true vision…fans of indie books and art lovers will embrace this as a masterpiece.
—Tom Batten, Library Journal
Another remarkable rescue by the New York Review Comics… One of the best representations of urban alienation in comic form, with soft and liquid lines serving as metaphors of the conformism that creeps under the skin of modern man.
—Just Indie Comics
…One of the more unusual and remarkable stories in the history of comics.
—Rob Clough, High-Low
…Pushwagner completes the subversive complex of his work, upending and overturning his readers with both the verbal and the visual. As a result, Soft City is as sumptuous as it is overwhelming: a vision of things to come that is more frightening for what it tells us about the world we already live in.
—Shea Hennum, A.V. Club
Pushwagner built Soft City on repetition, and repetition is Pushwagner’s genius…on its surface, the comic shows an impersonal day in the life of the inhabitants of Soft City, a dense, highly regimented metropolis, but beneath, Pushwagner’s opus reads like a dream casting back at a horrible, cold reality.
—Hayden Bennett, Art in America
It’s an absolute masterpiece of comics, and looks as if it was drawn yesterday.... It uses the medium of comics to express something profound and complicated.... The book was a revelation to me, and trumps pretty much every underground comic published in America at the same time.
Pushwagner’s Magnum Opus, the graphic novel Soft City, is as feverish as a nightmare acid trip.
Its rediscovery and rescue...confirm how timely and timeless Soft City was, and still is. Prepare to be astonished.
—Paul Gravett, author of 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die
These pages...read as both surreal and startlingly poignant almost fifty years after the first few sketches came to fruition.