Mix it up with Comix

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“The Comix: Cartoons as Art” is an Art in City Hall venture, and I squeezed it in right after my root canal. It cured me of all pain while I was looking. Try it. You’ll see.

No, really, this show was so much fun–a perfect summer Art in City Hall event that transcends the awful cases and somehow doesn’t look lost or weird in the space, quite an accomplishment if you ask me. And Cavin Jones, who curated the show, did a great job of setting it up as well, making the show readable and easy to follow.

I don’t even know where to begin, because I liked something from everyone who showed.

But I must say Dennis Lo knocked my socks off with “Blink.” It’s the image on the 4th floor that sold me. I had already admired the two downstairs pages of weird life down on the farm, but the one upstairs was something else entirely, a cartoon as Persian miniature, with use of space like I’ve never quite seen in a comic before. The frames were overlapping in a sinuous arrangement and defined by densely patterned architectural forms. The draftsmanship was great. Wow!

So I won’t put in a picture from Takitomo Tomita because you can see some of his work in past posts–here’s one by Roberta. Like Tomo, Elizabeth Haidle, is influenced by Japanese cartoons, and she gets some cosmic thinking into a wistful little story with a wistful little girl who hugs too hard.

I also admired Gregory Erskine’s boys in cars looking for girls. The subject matter made the consistently sized frames seem appropriate. Another frame, another night to cruise and be frustrated and angry. The high contrast inking was also a trait in the pages from Peter Stathis’ “Evenfall,” which you can apparently get in book form. The compositions are vertiginous and active. Stupidly, I failed to take a picture of this one. ouch.

Roberta posted about meeting Kip Deeds on First Friday at Spartaco, and here were a couple of his pieces, including “Building the Arkadelphia”! I’m not sure I consider this work comics, but that’s just semantics. It’s loopy and dense with ideas. The more I look at what Deeds is doing, the more curious I get. The obsessions seem pretty wide-ranging.

I also was pleased to see work by Delia King, who we met selling work off the 2nd Street fence in Old City one Friday (see post) although I again wonder if they are cartoons (shown “Floyd Family”).

Jerry De Falco had a couple of almost cruel round paintings, one of a mama mia bountiful and one of a pinched little nun and giant girl. Claudia Chou and Tyrone Lawrence had a young girl heroine on the loose story, at least in the frames on display, and Lance C. Hansen’s drawings came straight out of tv land, with a story-board look and camera angles. But in Philadelphia, I think everyone would read the John Karpinski Spaceboy story set in Philadelphia locales like the Swann fountain. I’m not sure why I didn’t take pictures of any of these. They were swell, too.

Human nature is a big comics subject. Leroy Johnson presented quick ink sketches–sharp observations of how people present themselves. I liked the young hipsters with their pants stylishly hanging below the critical zone in “60th Street.” But David Ferro’s ceramic cartoons of people he probably knows went beyond the expected with the suspended in air thought bubbles, each representing something relevant and different (shown, “Irv”).

And speaking of clay, 3-D political cartoons from Bill Hogan were a nice touch, with the Bush administration posing–Condy, Dubya, Colin Powel and Rummy. Also stretching the idea of what’s a cartoon were Carlson Pott’s glass goblets with cartoony animals hanging off the side.

Animals are anthropomorphic in cartoons. Cinzia Sevignana shows life and its mysteries through the eyes of bugs. These are religious in a way, pondering man’s place in the universe and his limited point of view. Holly Smith’s “Companion” is the cat from hell. And John Jonik’s cartoons are about human nature and anti-heroes (the mooses are his).

While most of the cartoonists worked in black-on-white ink, like Dan O’Connor with his square-jawed heroes and use of insets, Susan Quick offered someswell hi-gloss photo ink in dazzling colors that seemed to take a cel from Disney’s book.

Jacob Lambert’s pieces (shown “Cartoon Violence I” at the top) are in the most untraditional acrylic and he uses it to comment with a cartoon about cartoons. Takashi Moriyama uses mixed media that looks like it’s part acrylic as well, all sci-fi beams of light and steel.

Jeff Kilpatrick’s portraits in “Friday, Saturday, Monday” of guys in a bar were beauties. The story fell flat but no matter. I couldn’t take my eyes of the faces. They must be based on real people. And last but not least, Orlando Valentin offered a stylish goth epic with tangled bodies that made me think of Hieronymous Bosch.

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