Babylon (Paperback)

Babylon By Tomi Ungerer Cover Image

Babylon (Paperback)

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This collection of drawings and one-page cartoons by the internationally infamous cartoonist (and beloved children's book author) is a universal condemnation of human rottenness.


The third book in Fantagraphics ongoing project to reprint Tomi Ungerer's 1970s-1980s satirical work, Babylon may be the most sobering collection so far, an example of his humor at its blackest. Drawn entirely in pencil, these fully rendered images, reproduced in lush, dense, gray tones, rival the satirical vitriol of his anti-war posters of the previous decade, radiating repulsion at what human beings can do to one another in the guise of "civilization." Taking on a political and social hue, his contempt for the ruling class etched on virtually every page, Ungerer depicts the bourgeoisie as vassals of the ruling class — members of a voyeuristic tribe who accept their position as the natural order of things and take glee in the subordination of those beneath them and the exploitation of those who make their position possible. Trendy spiritualism and religious quackery are skewered. Several drawings show people desperately trying to improve their appearance by putting lipstick on or having plastic surgery, clearly a transparent attempt to hide their inner ugliness.

This denouncement of bad behavior is as sadly relevant today as it was in 1979 when this book was first published, as we have proved over these last four years. It is another uncompromising moral statement by Ungerer in the form of a series of masterful images. "There's one thing I can tell you for sure," he once said. "There's no such thing as a sheltering sky."

And Babylon proves he means it.
Tomi Ungerer (1931-2019) was born in Strasbourg, France. He is a cartoonist known for authoring more than a hundred books, both for children and adults. In 1957, he moved to the United States, where he became well-known for his satirical advertising campaigns. In 1998, he was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Prize.
Product Details ISBN: 9781683964735
ISBN-10: 168396473X
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Publication Date: December 14th, 2021
Pages: 184
Language: English
Mr. Ungerer [is] a virtuoso and a renegade.
— The New York Times

Ungerer's mastery of line is a marvelous thing…
— The Washington Post

How do I describe the seemingly effortless line work and the intimate understanding of the human form to be found in the pages of Babylon? In these drawings, Tomi Ungerer witnesses and records our human foibles and frailties, however dark, through the lens of humor. He unapologetically prods us into identifying our flaws so we can see ourselves more clearly. And the humor, always the humor. This is one of the best examples I’ve seen of how an artist can use humor as a subversive tool. If we don’t laugh we cry.

— Anita Kunz (Another History of Art)