Thursday, 20 August 2015

Fante Bukowski by Noah van Sciver Review

Kelly Perkins is a 23 year old wannabe writer who’s changed his name to Fante Bukowski after the two writers he idolises, John Fante and Charles Bukowski. He’s doing everything right too: he’s grown a beard, he lives in a run-down hotel, he drinks in dive bars, he writes on a typewriter and yellow legal pad. Because that’s all you need to be a writer, isn’t it - live the cliched writer’s life? Except he’s missing talent. The flashy literary agent character, Bigsburgh, sums it up succinctly: “Ugly loser writer struggles for fame and fortune”. 

Noah van Sciver’s Fante Bukowski is the funniest comic I’ve read all year. Bukowski’s a pathetic dipshit who says and does idiotic things a bit like Dan Clowes’ Wilson, another brilliant creation. Like many great comic characters, Bukowski’s unaware that he’s a moron. He writes garbage poetry like “Everyone who has power is a jock” and expects agents to be beating down his door with publishing deals (I love that he’s obsessed with mysterious “jocks” keeping him down from achieving success for some reason - what a lunatic!). 

Watching this guy write one bad thing after another, rage about his obvious genius going unrecognised, and scheming to get published is very entertaining. Van Sciver takes the stereotypical idea of the novelist and skewers it perfectly, along with John Fante/Charles Bukowski’s stories too (Perkins/Bukowski mirrors those novelists’ protagonists’ lives so faithfully, the comic ends up reading like a self-aware version of one of their books). 

It also has quotes from great writers at the start of each chapter which actually gives good writing advice, helping the reader/potential writer take a different path to Fante Bukowski’s. That’s the kind of reader that’ll really love this comic, the ones who are/aspire to be writers, because they’ll recognise the struggles and misconceptions of writing and have hopefully moved past/learned from them; but it’s also broad enough to appeal to anyone. 

Bukowski’s dealings with Bigsburgh the literary agent, his conversations with Audrey, his brief girlfriend and an actual published author, and that gun/bong scene at the end were so funny, especially that last one. And while I was laughing at Bukowski, I did like him enough to want to see him succeed a little - even though of course he doesn’t (unless you count being published in a homemade poetry mag)! 

Noah van Sciver’s Fante Bukowski is so much fun. It’s genuinely hilarious, clever and Fante Bukowski himself is such a great punching bag of a character, van Sciver taking aim at poseur artistes and completely destroying them. Excellent writing and art, great story - definitely give this one a shot, it’s a hoot!

Fante Bukowski


  1. I love Chuck. BTW, if you haven't seen the movie "Barfly", it's a classic and very funny.

  2. I love Chuck. BTW, if you haven't seen the movie "Barfly", it's a classic and very funny.