Yugoslavian Bernharda Xilko‘s illustrations are stark nightmares packed with active nudes and foreboding giants exploring unfolding landscapes and black-eyed lovers. Xilko’s sexually charged figures climb scaffolding, push open folding screens, and confront over-sized replicas in barren mountain ranges where platforms unstably rest. There always seems to be a sense of teamwork, but it is teamwork that is either ignorant of the task’s ultimate result or work that feels intentionally ominous. When clothing is adorned it often feels as if it is from the decades of black and white television which provides a conceptual link for the lack of color, and the garbs warn feel blue-collar and commonplace, making these figure’s lives and mission feel almost ant-like in its diligence and insignificance. The work shares the vibe that the Twilight Zone often evokes but in a more grotesque and explicit manner.
Bernharda is also a co-founder of NOVO DOBA, an annual Belgrade comix and underground culture festival that shares his aesthetic of dark worlds. You can also see more of his work here.
Bowling Green’s Jordan Speer creates spacious worlds of clumps and lumps that bring to mind what would’ve occurred if Philip Guston had happened to have access to a 3D modeling program. Jordan starts in a subdivision modeler called Wings 3D where he creates each element of the image, and he then stages them in Cinema 4D, which allows him to apply lighting and various textures. Once the file is complete, he tweaks the image in Adobe Photoshop, prints the image out, and then scans it back into his computer at either a high or low resolution setting. In spite of its heavily digital origin, Speer’s work physically manifests itself in the forms of zines, short-form comics, show posters, and publication covers.
Speer’s isometric view strengthens the image’s technical origins, while his comically gory content and grainy finish give it an organic touch. With the colors of a clown’s wardrobe Speer arranges mysterious peeks into a world where dismemberment and assembly are spontaneous and painless. His vision is uniquely his, sitting somewhere between the fashionably crude renderings of the many artists dabbling in 3D programs, and the professionally-polished films of Dreamworks and Pixar. He just released QCHQ through Space Face Books, a 68-page full-color book, and he created the wrap-around cover image for the eagerly awaited Happiness #4. It’s exciting to think about where Speer will continue to push this unique look, be it into a long-form animation or a graphic novel.
Pennsylvania-based Charles Huettner is a 2D animator who crafts symbiotic relationships between doughy eyed pudges, shapely humanoids, and anything with a blank stare and bulbous limbs. His animations employ seamless transformations and an athletic flow that quickly cuts and softly glides at all the right moments. The blankness and mushiness of the figures make them capable of anything, making them perfect vessels for experimentation with form and motion.
His 2013 short entitled The Jump, is a beautiful glimpse at a spirit world where two teenagers dabble in visionary experimentation with suddenly tragic results. With a sophisticated Akira-esque score, we watch as these teens’ innocent curiosity leads to a dark tragedy, all the while a red ghost stares empty and indifferent. The Jump was a standout in “Ghost Stories”, a recent release from Late Night Work Club. Along with many other animators he contributes to the Late Night Work Club, “a loose, rotating collective of indie animators”, which has been shown to put out some of the most impressive shorts in the online animation community.
” Victor “Bald Eagles” Cayro has been working in the field of comix for several years. His work has been seen in various anthologies including, Kramers Ergot 6, Project Superior, Typhon, Rub The Blood, and several others… but he has yet to create his own stand alone comic. Until now… ”
Bittersweet Romance is that stand alone comic, and it can be ordered here. It is a color blasted journey.
David Kettner of Philadelphia, has amassed an incredible array of work from over 50 years of art-making on his new website. The conclusion of his tenure as the head of both the Fine Arts and Drawing/Painting program at the University of the Arts has given birth to a cataloging of his life’s work. In reference to his recent work, he provides a concise objective:
“The priority… is to secure a paradoxical and maybe enigmatic alliance between the world of the child and the world of the adult.”
Behold the “GOLDEN SOURCE POWER THREE”, a powerful union between Jesse Balmer, Niv Bavarsky, and Michael Olivo. The trio has been passing papyrus for a year now, resulting in over 50 drawings/paintings. If you are in the Bay Area you’ll be able to see this year’s work in the flesh at Needles & Pens. Stop in and observe these worlds of harmony and violence.
Darin Shuler just got one of the final Xeric Grants, and with it he is publishing Castle and Wood, his ongoing comic involving some grotesque, yet cute, anthropomorphic individuals. He has a lovely command over black and white. He’s got a great website, he tumbles, he flicks, and sells his comics.
Jesse McManus is pure speed. His skills are frightening. His beautiful line work captures demented children, gremlins, goblins, cats, and very often knives, or just pointy tools in general, with an incredibly demented precision. Listen to his interview on Inkstuds, read some comics, tumble alongside him, and/or tweet at him.