An Interview with Jim Davis

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The following interview was conducted, years ago on a now defunct website The Damned Interviews, as it can no longer be found online except on The Damned Book of Interviews on Amazon, I figured I would offer it & selected others from the book here at Van Gogh’s Ear. Thank you for taking the time to read.

Who among us doesn’t admire Jim Davis for his hard work and creativity? His career in illustration began in 1969 and has made him one of the most prolific cartoonists there are. As the creator of Garfield, he created one of the most widely recognizable characters of modern day and that is no small feat. He also wrote or co- wrote on all of the Garfield TV Specials. Davis produced the animated series Garfield & Friends which originally aired from 1988-1995. Most recently he created the new CGI TV series The Garfield Show (of which he is also an executive producer) and works as a writer/producer for the Direct to Video CGI Garfield films. He also founded The Professor Garfield Foundation to promote Children’s Literacy. Jim continues to produce the Garfield strip.

Is it true when you grew up you had 25 cats? What was that like? Do you think that is why you chose to make Garfield a cat instead of a dog or some other animal?

Yes, it’s true we had at least 25 cats. They were all barn cats with a mission to keep mice at bay. I used to hang out in the barn and would observe that they all had distinct personalities. Some were aloof, some loved attention, some were playful, others wouldn’t budge unless the barn was on fire. I remember as a kid thinking that cats were kind of cool in their own way. They didn’t answer to anyone.

I actually started my cartooning career with a strip called Gnorm Gnat. My hunch was that nonhuman characters could be placed in many more interesting situations with greater flexibility that human characters. In that strip, Gnorm was the straight man (or gnat) surrounded by a bunch of weird characters:  Cecil Slug, Freddy the Fly, Dr. Rosenwurm. I submitted the strip to all the syndicates and finally one comics editor came back to me with some good advice. He said, “Your art is good, the jokes are funny, but bugs? Who can relate to a bug?” That’s when I started thinking about a new approach. I took a good look at the comics pages and realized there were lots of dog strips: Snoopy, Marmaduke, Belvedere…but no cats.  That was my EUREKA moment.

What would you say is your favorite memory from back then?

Summer days and nights that seemed endless. Starry skies. Fishing with my brother Doc.

Did you also love to draw as a child?

Not at first. I was pretty terrible. I was asthmatic as a child and was forced inside and in bed for days at a time. My mom would encourage me to keep myself busy; she’d shove a pencil and paper in my hands and tell me to entertain myself. My drawings were so bad I had to label everything so you could tell what it was. Eventually, I developed a habit and couldn’t stop drawing. I remember sitting under the kitchen table and making little drawings on the bottom of the table. I’m pretty sure I drew on some walls, too.

When you first created Garfield did you ever dream he would have become such a huge character as he has? Why do you think so many people love him?

When I received the phone call saying Garfield would be picked up by the syndicate, it was the best day of my life. Everything since then has just been gravy. I think Garfield resonated with people for a couple reasons — Number one, I tried to keep the gags broad and the humor general and applicable to everyone. Most of the gags were about eating and sleeping. Everyone could relate. And then, I think people liked Garfield because it was the Jane Fonda era — everyone was being told to exercise and eat less. Garfield was saying, “Take a nap.” “Have a donut.”  He rebelled against the fitness trend and a lot of people needed that to relieve their guilt for being couch potatoes.

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What do you think you’d be doing now if not for that?

Without a doubt, I’d be a farmer.

What was it like to see the specials based on your work be nominated for and in some cases win an Emmy? Was that a little surreal?

I’ll never forget the first show, “Here Comes Garfield.” It was 1981 and I was in a studio in California struggling with how to make Garfield stand up and dance. My all-time hero, Charles Schulz (Peanuts), happened to be working on a project in the same studio. He came by and I explained my problem. Sparky (as he was known to friends) provided me with the solution on the spot. He started drawing over my drawing, saying, “The problem is, you’ve made Garfield’s feet too small. Little tiny cat feet.” So he got Garfield, like Snoopy, up off all fours and Garfield’s been walking upright ever since. Talk about surreal.

Aside from Garfield which of your other characters did you enjoy creating most?

I really love Odie. He’s stupid but sweet, and for a character that doesn’t talk, he’s very expressive. It’s also fun to do strips with Jon Arbuckle’s parents and brother because they’re based on my own family. It’s fun to tease the people you love in such a public format.

How have things in the world of comics changed most since you first started your work in the field?

Comics editors are trying to squeeze a ton of strips onto the comics page so they’re all pretty small when they end up in the newspaper. I’ve had to learn to be a good editor — minimize the number of words and include lots of sight gags.

Can you tell our readers a little about The Professor Garfield Foundation? What led you to form that?

When I was on book tour, people would come up to me all the time and tell me that Garfield helped their child learn to read. The simple combination of pictures and words sparked their interest. After hearing this over and over, I thought there had to be something to it. I started talking to educators and they confirmed that comic strips were a powerful tool in teaching reading. My alma mater, Ball State University, happens to be a few miles away from the studio — they have one of the top Teacher’s Colleges in the country. We formed a partnership and the Foundation was born. Our mission is to provide a fun, interactive, online environment where children can safely explore, learn and creatively express themselves.

Do you enjoy creating works that appeal to children as well as adults?

Absolutely. My wife tells me I’m just a big kid, so it comes naturally. I have four grandchildren now, too, so they are giving me a great education.

Do you find that being a cartoonist helps you stay young at heart? Do you think that is an important thing do?

I make a living drawing a cat. How mature is that? I hope I never completely grow up — that would be very bad for Garfield.

Can you tell us about Paws, Inc.? Do you feel lucky to have the chance to employ and work with so many fellow artists?

Paws, Inc. is the licensing and creative studio that supports everything Garfield is involved in (TV, movies, licensing, publishing). The other artists inspire and challenge me. I feel incredibly lucky to be around so many creative people every day.

Is there any one interview question that no one has ever asked, that you wish they would?

Can’t think of anything…

What is one little-known thing about you?

I’m a decent bridge player.

What projects are you working on next?

There are a couple of projects on the table, but I’m not at liberty to talk about them just yet. Let’s just say, Garfield will be busy for a long time to come.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans/readers in closing?

Thank you for allowing a 66-year-old man to behave like a 12-year-old. I’m forever in your debt.

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(Photos used with permission from Paws, Inc.)

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“Yet Another Birthday” by Bibhu Padhi

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YET ANOTHER BIRTHDAY

I know someone is dying
this moment into me,
choosing to give away
to this body his unknown,
unpredicted slices of life, as if
each moment was a further life.

Generous breaths pause
on each cell on this body,
as if they looked for
a habitat that they would find
their very own, something
that was long overdue.

I wonder if this body deserves
the gifts that arrive every moment,
without its asking, from places
that might have hardly known
what it needs, affectionate extensions.

Today I know how bodies, distanced by
unseen hands, are indeed together,
at one place, through all time,
defying differences that fate
so skillfully invents but doesn’t know
their private wishes that float on
to all time, one place.

I am here and know how friendships
about to close, are quietly renewed.

 

 

 

An Interview with & the Art of Lou Rusconi

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Lou Rusconi is an underground artist with an artistic bent for the macabre. His imaginative graphic renderings of vividly colorful gore have graced various galleries, album covers, and prints.

Can you tell us a little about yourself? What from your earliest days influenced you to create as you do today?

I currently work in the medical field for my day job. I have done a lot of different things over my life; fast food, retail, construction work, and production art. Nothing satisfies as much as helping people. I have always loved unconventional and challenging artwork. Underground comics from the 70’s rocked my life and changed my style forever. Seeing that there was a place for people like me and an audience who wants this is amazing.

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Who are some of your own favorite artists?

My lifelong favorite artists are in no particular order: Dali, Bosch, Robt. Williams, Frazetta and H.R. Giger. My contemporary favorites are Sergio Zuniga, Mike Diana, Danny Hellman, Mike Stoneroad, Frank Russo, Martina Secundo Russo, Terry Bizarro, The Fabulous B.S., Ryan “Humanburger” Jones, Reuben Fulci, Jose Angeles and so, so many more.

What are some of the very first things you remember liking to draw most as a child?

I wanted to be a cop or fireman, picture that, I drew a lot of cops and cars. BUT, my main joy came from drawing MONSTERS, from movies and imagination. Monsters have always intrigued me and still do to this day.

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When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?

As a kid I watched my Old Man paint and I wanted to be like him. I think I took to it easier and more naturally than him though and he stopped painting earlier in my life while I continued. My parents were very supportive of me creatively.

Why do your works feature such vivid color while depicting such dark things?

I get lumped in a lot of times with Dark Art and I’m cool with that, only I use bright colors and fluorescents in my dark art. I fucking hate rules and will always bend or break them. Fuck rules. Give it a name, ya know?

 

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Do you find colors can be therapeutic?

They work for me, I stopped self-medicating at 33 and take no maintenance medicine yet. There is a feeling I get from the bright colors both exciting and calming.

Your work has often faced censorship. What are your personal feelings on censorship in general?

I fucking despise censorship. A drawn penis or vagina has never harmed anyone. Drawn violence hurts no one either. These perceived Politically Correct Monitors are stifling art and it is sad that artists feel the need to create what they think others want or what will sell. I always figured one day, the Dream Police will come for me in the middle of the night and take me away (too much Kafka, I think). I will create what I want, when I want and if it offends you, that is a feeling and reaction and that is what good art does, stimulates, repulses, inspires, etc. If censorship is there to protect children that is bullshit, I bought Underground Comics at age 10, I stole and bought porno at age 12. If kids want something and it is verboten, they will find a way to it! If I had the goddamn internet as a kid….holy shit!! People who are easily offended need to get a fucking life and do something worthwhile.

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What advice would you offer other artists in regards to creating things that appeal to their own individuality?

Do what YOU think is right, don’t follow trends. Go with your heart and do your own style, keep exploring and find your individuality. Being creative does not always mean you will be successful, don’t expect it. Keep working, this is a lifelong experiment and no one gets out.

Do you think the business side of art often clashes with the creative side of it?

Absolutely. The glut of artwork in LA seems to follow trends. While there is money to be made, I don’t feel that what is being made is always “artwork”, especially if you anticipate what your market wants. That is dumbing down the audience unfortunately. I respect my friends and fans too much to offer them the same SHIT over and over again.

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Are there any little known things about you that your fans might be surprised to know?

 I sometimes MC Burlesque show which is amazing because I am kind of a quiet guy. It is fun, when I get the chance and freedom to express myself verbally and visually. I’m typically a shy guy, so this is how I challenge myself to think outside of my comfort zones. Free ID and Super Ego! Let them run wild and see what happens.

Another fun fact is I do not drink or do drugs. I stopped over 20 years ago and my health and life are better for it. As young artists we are geared up to think we need to be self destructive, but that is bullshit and a crutch. It is more challenging to not be a fuck up and work harder every day. I do not preach or push my ideas on anyone though. I think that is bullshit too. One more fun fact, I’m vegetarian, this is for health and compassion. Again, I do not preach to others about this.

Is there anything else you’d like to say in closing?

I would like to thank all of my friends and fans, but I really want to thank Bill Shafer of Burbank’s Hyaena Gallery (www.hyaenagallery.com) and Frank and Martina Russo of Brooklyn’s MF Gallery (www.mfgallery.net), both galleries have been so kind and encouraging to me over the years and they are both fabulous galleries for artists such as myself. The art world is very large, but to find a place that allows you to be you and express what you want with no censorship or fuckery is amazing. I salute both of these galleries and everyone should seek them out and support them.

Thank you so much for you time and platform, I appreciate it very much!

Please go to my facebook page for more art and up to date notices http://www.facebook.com/lou.rusconi?success=1#!/lou.rusconi Check out the new website being worked on!! : WWW.RUSCONIART.COM

The Art of & an Interview with Dan Litzinger

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Can you tell us a little bit about your early days? What are your most fond memories from those days?

I grew up mostly around Atlanta, Georgia as the youngest of three brothers. I wanted to be like them obviously, so that’s how I got into comics and developed most of my taste for pop culture was through them. We had an early VHS camera and made a lot of home movies, with plots and characters and everything. They were very funny, I think a lot of it still holds up, but maybe just for me!

What were some of your favorite things from back then?

I loved everything G.I. Joe and I was always drawing from a very early age. It was a big deal when our neighborhood got wired for cable, and I loved all the original Comedy Central and SyFy channel shows. I was definitely into Monty Python, Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Kids in the Hall and all that absurdist comedy stuff from when I was around 8 years old. I loved Star Wars and all the movies my brothers would watch, which I would put on while I was drawing – like I still do today!

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Do you remember what you liked to draw most often as a child?

My dream was to be a syndicated newspaper cartoonist, like my hero Bill Amend. I used to study Foxtrot comics like it was my homework. I wrote letters to Bill Watterson. I drew cartoon strips with a character named Dapper Dan who was a bit of a klutz! I also drew an action/adventure series called Tex & Laser, who were basically G.I. Joe surrogates. My friends and I would use that old dot matrix printer paper to design scrolling video game worlds. I think every child of the 80’s did that. I continued drawing comics for my high school paper and several times I sent out submission packages to syndicates.

What was it that first sparked your interest in art?

Art was easily my favorite subject in school and I strongly believe in the absolute necessity of arts education. My mother especially cultivated that and put me in summer art programs. She also took me to the local library often and I would always check out books on how to draw. As she likes to say, “We’re library people!”

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Who are some of your favorite artists?

I am constantly inspired by working artists around me, especially those who left the safety of their day job to pursue their artistic vision. Zachary “Speczacular” Friedberg is a fantastic local pop artist whose work I admire. Photographer/director/fashion designer Ama Lea also springs to mind. She’s the genius behind the popular Year of Fear calendar and one of the hardest working independent artists I know. But the biggest influences on my formative years were probably Frank Miller, Mike Allred, and Roy Lichtenstein.

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How does it feel to have your works compared to Roy Lichtenstein?

S’great! There’s the old saying, “If you’re going to steal, steal from the best.” I think Roy did that and I think I’m doing that now.

Why do you think society has always been so fascinated with the dark and weird?

We hope nothing bad is going to happen to us or to our loved ones, so we try not to think about it. But then curiosity of the unknown is overwhelming.

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As someone who works as an artist as well as in film and television, do you love one more than the other? How do both of them compliment each other?

Well, it’s all storytelling! I don’t have any general preference between film and painting, but I do have mood changes from day to day. Some days I’m in the edit zone and I forget to eat or drink anything, other days I’m painting from sun up to sundown, and some days are in between. I try to follow my muse and just jam on whatever it is I’m excited about at the moment. That way nothing is ever forced but I’m always making progress. I feel very lucky to have multiple creative passions.

What do you love most about the act of creation in its various forms?

When I was in college, I was very into Malevich and this idea that creation is way to feel closer to a higher power, and I think there is still some of that meditative feeling in it for me. Hence, large compositions with a million little dots that take forever – something that I could easily do on a computer today if I were just trying to crank out images. As for film editing, I love bringing my unique vision to sometimes challenging footage. I consider the edit bay a magical place where anything can happen. I think that besides a director, the editor perhaps has the deepest fingerprints on a film.

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Do you have a dream project you’d most like to bring into being?

I want to create paintings on a much larger scale. Especially since I mainly paint movie icons, the larger size is more evocative of the movie theater experience. I would love to do a series of large, sequential paintings, like every shot from a full scene in one movie rather than just one shot for each movie. Someday I hope to have some public art and add to the fabric of this city that I love so much. And as an editor, I would love to cut a feature horror film.

Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?

Support living artists – the dead ones don’t need it! I’ll be at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles on July 21 with the largest piece I’ve ever painted. Starting September 1, I’ll have some prints at the “Nasty Women: Boston” exhibition at Laconia Gallery, with 100% proceeds benefitting Color of Change and Planned Parenthood. Also in September I’m very excited to be part of the Slashback Video installation at The Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum in Burbank. And hopefully next year my second documentary feature Keep On Running will be on the film festival circuit.

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An Interview with Edward Lee

 

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Edward Lee has been delivering extreme horror at its best since about 1988. His various works appear in countries worldwide with many of his small-press/limited edition hardcover releases becoming collector’s items. His latest work White Trash Gothic (Deadite Press) tells the tale of a writer suffering trauma induced memory loss and his quest to find it. Fans of his work can also find the movie The Walking Woman and a homage to Dali/Bunuel’s Andalusian Dog from 1928 the short film Andalusian Tadpole now both featured On Demand from Vimeo. He is currently working on a spoof on ABC’s of Death tentatively titled The ABC’s of Nude Horror.

What do you think it is about the macabre that drew your interest from an early age?

EL: I suspect its something innate because as a kid it seemed natural for me to steer towards horror. A baby-sitter took me to Psycho at a drive-in and I was tickled pink. I was more fascinated by the Tales From The Crypt comics than the super heroes. All I cared about on TV were Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, and The Invaders when everyone else my age was watching Mr. Ed and Leave It To Beaver. On Fridays and Saturday’s I’d stay awake waiting for my parents to go to bed, then I’d sneak out and watch Creature Feature on Channel 20 with Count Gore Dival (by the way, I still see the Count every year or two at conventions, and he still looks the same!) In other words, I don’t think anything in my childhood environment led me to the macabre. I think it was always in me.

How have you changed most since then?

EL: That’s the wonderful thing, I haven’t. What’s changed is media-technology and the overall market. The macabre-element in our entertainment pie has grown and grown along with the technology. One of the many great things about America is that there’s something for everyone, and public interest in the horror field seems to excel where as not so much in other fields and genres. Cool.

Do you think the horror genre has suffered during the transition from the its early day to what it is at this point in time? What do you think it is about the classic works that give them such timeless appeal?

EL: No, the opposite. The genre hasn’t suffered over time, it’s evolved, it’s been nourished, it’s exploded. It started roughly in the 1800’s as something nearly non-existent (Washington Irving, Hawthorne, Edward Bulwar-Lytton), then to something gaining steam and attracting more readers (Poe) until it matured into a bona fide “genre” (Lovecraft, Weird Tales, Ambrose Bierce, Seabury Quinn, etc.) World War Two put an understandable damper on the genre (who needs horror when you have the Imperial Japanese Army and the Waffen SS?) but after we handed them their asses in 1945, things got rolling again, and I think for an interesting reason. True, the first half of the 20th Century was a veritable exercise in horror via the two World Wars, but after it was all done people needed entertainment again and I think that supernatural horror became the next big thing, because it was the kind of horror that really didn’t mirror the real horrors of the world; instead, it was a fascinating, macabre fantasyscape, unlike anything the printed page has ever offered before. And by then, of course, Arkam House formed to exhume Lovecraft’s genius from obscurity and August Derleth hustled paperback deals for all those stories and books. This was the Big Bang of Horror. Then came another Big Bang, in the early ‘70s: Stephen King. His magnificent (and incredibly accessible) work–seemingly right out of the blue–CREATED the horror market as we know it today. By 1980, because of King, the Horror Octopus was released like Liam Neeson’s Kraken: a genre with multiple tentacles (sub-genres): something for everybody. King raised the public awareness of horror bigly (to quote the President), and this created a demand that swingin’ dicks like me were allowed to step into and fill. Lovecraft’s influence caused me to be a writer. But it was King’s contribution that let me and everyone else in this bizz today have a career.

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What does it take to make a truly good story?

EL: A main character who’s interesting and a sequence of unusual events that makes the reader want to keep reading. Nothing more than that.

Why do you think your work is often classified as extreme horror? How do you suppose that differs from the usual horror genre?

EL: the only difference is purely gray area, a matter of interpretation. It’s the same difference between cakes at the bakery. It’s all in the icing. You want a boring, mainstream cake, buy the fuckin’ pound cake. But if you want an EXTREME cake, buy the one with the most icing! Gross stuff happens in my books because that’s part of the icing. My books have head-humping, trans-vaginal evisceration, hock-parties, and cunt-kicking contests. There’s none of that in Lovecraft but look closely at, say, Shadow Over Innsmouth, and Charles Dexter Ward, and you’ll find things much nastier than my stuff

Why do you think people are drawn to horror?

EL: Probably something in our genetic code has always made us fascinated with the prospect of heaven and hell, ghosts, monsters, etc. The first stories ever written were HORROR stories written on the walls of caves, depicting all of these. The Windingo, the Fire Spirit, the Man in the Mountain, the Berserker, the Incubus. As cave men and women we hypothesized about these things. Where did we come from? And where might we be going next? Presto! Fifty thousand years later we have the same things going on but instead of cave walls they’re in books and on our Kindles.

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Can you tell us a little more about Andalusian Tadpole? What inspired you to make that particular piece of work?

EL: Because I like weird shit. In 1928 Salvadore Dali and Luis Bunuel made a 14 minute movie called Andalusian Dog. (Bunuel’s mom paid for it.) There was no dog in it, and it wasn’t filmed in Andalusia. The point? After World War One came the Da Da art movement, followed by the movement of Irrationalism. It was the Art World giving a great big middle finger to humanity. The progression of mankind with all its intellect, all its genius and initiative, and all its promise have given us what? World War One: 18 million dead, 20 million crippled. The Spanish Flu Pandemic: 50 million dead. (That’s right, FIFTY, and all between 1918 and 1919.) Ah, and then the sequent Global Depression. Hence, the attitude of the Art World became thus: “If that’s the best it can do, FUCK mankind.” From this derived art movements that were brazenly anti-establishment. Dali, a surrealist, was also very interested in Irrationalism. So he and his buddy Luis Bunuel (who would be named and continues to be named year after year by critics as the 14th greatest film maker of all time) decided to make a short film wherein no single event or image in the movie has any rational correspondence to another–hence, Irrationalism. Myriad critics (such as Roger Ebert) rank Andalusian Dog as the most important short film ever made. Most of you have seen it and don’t realize it: it’s the one where the guy slices a woman’s eyeball in half in the first 30 seconds. I’ve recently become obsessed with videography and I wanted to make a homage to Andalusian Dog. (And I’m sure that it will NEVER be ranked as the greatest short film of all time!) I’ll continue to do such homages to mirror my love of abstract film.  (Eraserhead, Begotten, Seventh Seal.) Plus it’s a great excuse to film actresses with no clothes on! The kick in the ass is I gotta pay them $100 an hour. Check out https://vimeo.com/user22091649 if you’d like to investigate my wee efforts.

White Trash Gothic deals with trauma induced memory loss. Do you think sometimes in life the loss of memories can be a useful coping mechanism to have?

EL: I’ve never thought about it that deeply but I’m sure that some kinds of memory loss are deliberate defense mechanisms, instigated by our brains, and part of our genetics. But in White Trash Gothic, I needed my recurring character known as “The Writer” to have a reason to go back to Luntville, West Virginia, and a major case of memory loss seemed the most interesting way to implement this. He’s lost his memory due to the outrageous, traumatic shenanigans he witnessed 20 years ago in my novel Minotauress. This book heralds the return of my most notorious monster, The Bighead, and though White Trash Gothic is pretty much a full-length novel, it will continue as a series of novellas, so readers don’t have to wait too long for each next installment. The book is a hoot and, yes, it has a good ole redneck cunt-kicking contest in it.

How has the literary world changed most since you first became part of it?

EL: It’s changed hugely and it’s changed not at all. Hugely in that more and more people are reading now than ever, and more and more genres are exploding–a wonderful thing. Not to mention the explosion of new writers whose work is now accessible due to Kindle. But not at all, too, simply because just as some people are natural born basketball players, or mathematicians, or carpenters, some people are natural born story-tellers. And everyone likes a good story, right? It’s human nature, and it’s been this way for time immemorial.

Do you think you will ever give up being an author or is writing something that helps you keep going?

EL: It doesn’t help me keep going; it’s a privilege that’s been given to me for whatever reason; therefore I have an obligation to keep busting my ass. I’ll write till I’m dead, dead as a doornail like Jacob Marley. I’ll write till God on High drops my dick in the dirt. I’ll write till the moment that the Golden Bowl ceases to vibrate. I’m getting old now, I’m 60, and I write slower…but I ain’t done yet.

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An Interview with and the Art of Nicolas Caesar

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Nicolas Caesar is a self-taught artist hailing from Northern CA. Founder of the Scary Art Collective, his artwork brings forth a whimsical creepy landscape populated by beings both sinister and sardonic. You will see glimpses of Sideshow madness within his paintings mixed with a healthy dose of 50’s B-Movie charm. The raw feel of his work twists the familiar yet remains strikingly original. Nicolas’ horrific characters with their permanent, toothy grins reveal a playful quality to his art that challenges you to keep from smiling along no matter what atrocity they are currently plotting for your future.

Nicolas Caesar’s work is in private collections in France, the Netherlands, Kenya, Japan, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada, and throughout the United States. Nicolas’ web comic Mosquito and Spider was accepted into the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. He and his works have been features on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, KVIE PBS Sacramento, Sacramento’s Livewire, The Bay Area’s KOFY Tv20 – Creepy KOFY Movie Time, and Cleveland’s The Ghoul show.

Nicolas Caesar was the curator and one of the artists for Scream 4. His webcomic Mosquito and Spider was a selection for the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. His work is collected internationally.

Bio by Bill Shafer @ Hyaena Gallery.

What were you like as a child? Did you always have a fascination for the weirder side of things?

I used to be obsessed with insects, dinosaurs and monsters. I had asthma so I spent most of my time indoors going through picture books and reading comics. I think monsters always fascinated me because they were my initiation to mutating, mixing and matching, and thinking outside the box. I think I was always weird.

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What is the very first thing you remember drawing? And what do you remember drawing the most from an early age?

I drew these stick figurish dinosaurs, I was always building worlds and scenes, it was my escape. As I got older I tried drawing Garfield, Dungeons and Dragons monsters, robots from The Black Hole. I knew I was terrible but it didn’t stop me, I loved drawing.

What do you think it is exactly about 50’s B-Movies that make them so timeless in their appeal?

I grew up watching a show called Creature Features with Bob Wilkins. I was always excited by monsters I had never seen before – every Friday and Saturday it was Godzilla, Mushroom People, Crab Monsters or the deadly worms in Squirm. I think it’s tied to the unknown, knowing that there could be thousands of creatures out there undiscovered. On top of that it taught philosophy. Whenever they’d defeat whatever giant monster of the week – they questioned humanity’s role in the universe and with nature. Most scripts were written by beatniks so you had giant puppet monsters mixed with parables. Now, I think MST3K reinvented the party movie, they’re fun to rip on for their outdated slang or bad dialogue – but as a kid they were early models to adulthood and bravery.

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Who were some of your biggest influences?

Comics like Mystery, Weird War, Mad Magazine, b-movies, Big Daddy Roth, Max Fleischer, John K, Jim Smith, Basquait, Gerald Scarfe, Ralph Steadman, Alex Toth, Hanna Barbera, Gahan Wilson, Charles Addams, Max Ernst, Edward Gorey, Screamin’ Mad George, Johnny Rotten, Basil Gogos, Bob Clampet, Duck Ewing, the list goes on and on, I’m a sponge and a blender.

What have you found to be the most difficult thing to learn as a self taught artist?

The business side of art, when I first started it was trial and error. Art, how it’s perceived, is always out of your control but selling it takes a lot of experimentation. You’re always working to tip the supply and demand scale closer to demand and a lot of that is breaking your own rules and exploring alternate avenues. The best way I can describe is is like playing several hands of poker and learning from your losses and wins, at the same time always making sure there’s gas in the tank.

booriver

What advice would you offer others looking to do the same?

Art is an uphill battle, don’t beat yourself up because you’re not where you imagined you’d be. Success and failures are irrelevant. The journey is the destination. You’re selling yourself and your art is your journal. If people want to be rich they should flip houses, art isn’t an animal of the square world, its pulled out of imagination and experimentation. Never give your power to jealousy, envy, or delusions of fame and fortune – just do your thing and keep doing it. The quickest road to ruin is trying to please everyone. Your success in a nutshell is being able to flawlessly execute your imagination to materials. Also don’t be a jerk.

weirdonaut

How does it feel to have your works collected worldwide?

In the beginning it felt like the game of Risk, I wanted my work in every country, every city, now that I’ve matured I can really appreciate how the internet leveled the playing field when it comes to art.

Do you think you will pursue more work in the comic field in the future?

Of course, I’m the girl who can’t say no, if there’s an invitation I’m there!

scarocel

What feelings do you hope to convey with your works?

To not take life or the art world so seriously, to ground yourself and have fun. My art in a sense is punk rock balancing out the serious 17 page artist statements. I used to hate when people called my work “Fun”, it always sounded so condescending but now I see its importance. It is the plaid to balance out the grey.

Do you think nostalgia plays a heavy role in your creations?

Definitely. They say write about what you know and I paint my brain. I make my art out of the things I loved as a kid, part of it’s nostalgia and other parts are able to express emotions in a cute comical way.

shakeitout

Are there any future projects you are looking forward to?

I’m producing a TV show called Mosquito and Spider based off of my web comic, I have a Troma movie themed art show coming up at Hyaena Gallery and my friend Jeremy Cross and I just launched our 99cent themed art show up on eBay.

Anything you’d like to say in closing?

I think for all artists it’s important to make work they’re proud of before you start listening to any armchair art critic. Even the most successful artists wrestle with their confidence. Be happy with what you do and those who support you, Never waste your time on educating people who don’t get it. Embrace you’re from outer space in their eyes. (smiles)

 

“Abditum” by Katherine Gethin

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‘Dawn and Dusk’ by Alphonse Mucha (1899)

 

Abditum

 

Woman of clouded glass
Bricks and boards can’t keep you out
Standing on the precipice
A wasteland, in white.

Falling along the edge
The jagged mist comes screaming
Inside outside inside
Your skin.

Where are the trees?
Wonder why they flit within the shadows;
What stains these boards
Where I walk a million miles?

The darkness on the stairs to Hell
Never hides the monsters
Never hides our intentions
Never keeps its promises.
She speaks wisdom; Listen well.

 

Katherine Gethin is a fiction editor and astrophysicist living in San Antonio, Texas. She has owned Evensong Editing since 2010. In addition to her editing, she has also ghostwritten 5 novels and is currently finishing her PhD in astrophysics.