Renee French has been making comics for a long time. But for a few years now, she’s maintained a sketchblog full of spontaneous, faded graphite drawings that draw their appeal from creative character design and dubious narrative elements. Think of the black and white surrealist aesthetics of a Travis Louie painting, scaled and repackaged for children’s book production.
Never were there lovelier tortured souls. Wisconsin-born and University of Wisconsin at Madison-trained artist Melissa Cooke works primarily in powdered graphite and often casts herself as the subject of her drawn musings. Striking in both subject matter and detail, her creations explore themes of violence, sexuality, and identity. The nuances of story and emotion evoked are powerful, often unsettling. All of this is made by the artist’s skillful hand, guiding her dry brush across thin layers of graphite on sizeable pieces of paper.