Following the lively masterpieces 'Rembrandt' and 'Andy', Typex has put together a small but phenomenal biography of the philosopher Moses ‘Moishe’ Mendelssohn. The book homes in on six key episodes in the life of the Jewish philosopher who came to be known as the ‘Socrates of Berlin’. This approach results in an engaging, compelling introduction to Mendelssohn, whose philosophy remains influential to this day.

Original title

In six chapters – or ‘anecdotes,’ as the subtitle calls them – the reader witnesses a number of important milestones from the life of the short, hunchbacked worrywart. These anecdotes are about moments in time, such as Mendelssohn’s departure for Berlin, his declaration of love to his wife Fromet and his encounter with the antisemitic King Frederick the Great.

Every chapter has a clear introduction, with the official historical account on the left and the reconstruction of that story on the right. It’s fascinating to discover that the history books are wrong more often than not. For example, we learn that Moishe never actually met the writer and philosopher Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, even though there is a famous painting that depicts their encounter.

With Typex’s trademark flair and humour, he chooses those moments from Mendelssohn’s life that he considers most apposite. His characteristic page layout is the perfect format for the story: he has his characters walk down the page from top to bottom, with the speech bubbles making up a monologue, as in the work of cartoonists such as Brecht Evens and Cyril Pedrosa. Typex captures lengthy sequences on a single page. For example, the reader sees the cross-section of a house, with Moishe being welcomed by the host in the bottom left, then following him up the stairs into the dining room where they have a meal, after which they climb another flight of stairs up into the attic. He doesn’t use traditional boxes or rectangles – instead, there are classical columns or fancy curlicues to suggest panels.

Typex moves deftly between fantasy and reality, enthusiastically deploying stylistic elements from the eighteenth century. His pages are never conventionally boxy, but always fluid and playful.’

Typex (b. 1962) is a Dutch comic book artist and illustrator. He has been active in the comics world since 1982.
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