The beautiful, carefully compiled 'Eldorado' showcases Tobias Schalken’s diverse and original work in all its glory. Surprising surreal paintings provide moments of calm between short stories that are so different they could have been written by several authors. 'Eldorado' is a clear testament to Schalken’s unique imagination and craftsmanship.

Graphic novel
Original title
Tobias Tycho Schalken

Content-wise, this collection digs deeper than the experimental comics that first brought Schalken international recognition. These stories leave a lasting impression as the artist translates the theme of adolescent alienation into captivating literary comics. In Thirteen, for example, the images show only the settings of various teen hangouts, while the text describes their actions and feelings. The Lights of Home and the title story, Eldorado, are about girls who feel uncomfortable in their own families, both told in a style similar to that of Daniel Clowes or Adrian Tomine.

Schalken still poses compositional challenges for himself, but never without reason. In That Bright Land, a man is walking with his dog down deserted streets and across empty landscapes as if he is the last soul on earth. The wordless narrative reinforces the character’s loneliness. Another textless story, The Final Frontier, playfully illustrates the fundamental inaccessibility of the other in the form of a loving embrace in the void.

In the collection’s more mysterious comics, there is little to be drawn from the illustrations, and the imaginative text plays a more dominant role. From teenage angst to poetry, from artistic slapstick to bitter jokes about human naivety, Eldorado has it all.

Schalken’s paintings are reminiscent of Caspar David Friedrich’s desolate romanticism but also surrealistic. […] 'Eldorado' compels you to reflect on the world—and that’s what counts.

Cutting Edge

Schalken gets away with both literary voiceovers and wordless choreography on paper, stories without characters and classical narratives: each time the result is highly personal and perfectionistic.

Tobias Tycho Schalken
Tobias Tycho Schalken (b. 1972) is a versatile artist. In addition to sculptures, paintings, installations and illustrations, he has been drawing comics for more than twenty years.
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