By Geneva Gamez
With our all-time favorite comic heroes making their way to the big screen, it’s a big question whether there are new comic icons for our new and young generations on the way. It turns out, there is! There are a number of young comic artists making their way into the comic world of comic books, comic strips, and just plain comic art. As the highly anticipated and well-awaited annual Comic Con convention came and went, one of our local art galleries featured fifteen comic artists from across the United States and as near as Los Angeles.
Curator Chako Suzuki handpicked the independent comic book artists who translated their visions of paradise onto canvas and paper. ”Comic books are enjoying a comeback among young adults in both the theater and in print, and we’d like to show San Diego that comics aren’t just for little kids - they bring about the nostalgia, craziness, and imagination that our everyday lives may lack” said Suzuki.
Artists include: Mark Todd + Esther Watson, Tony Millionaire, Souther Salazar, Marc Bell, Ron Rege Jr., Mumbleboy, Andrew Jeffrey Wright, Isaac Lin, E*Rock, John Pham, Joe Grillo, PAPER RAD, Sammy Harkham, and Bwana Spoons.
Here is a brief bio on some of the artists:
Esther Pearl Watson grew up in Texas, land of swagger and big belt buckles. She moved to California to attend Art Center College of Design and received her BFA in 1995. After school she moved to New York to pursue her career. Aside from editorial work, she writes and illustrates books for children and teens. Recently, she was invited to co-illustrate the cover of American Illustration Annual 22 with her husband and fellow artist, Mark Todd. Communication Arts, The Society of Illustrators, The Art Directors Club, Print Magazine, and others have recognized her work. Currently, Esther has headed back west and now lives in Pasadena, California with her husband and daughter, Lilly.
Souther Salazar draws and paints in his room in Pasadena, CA. Outside his window is a big tree where squirrels are always playing. On his shelves he has lots of books. Some of them he made, some of them he found, a few were gifts, and the rest are old childhood favorites.
Ron Rege, Jr. is from Plymouth, MA, but spent most of his “formative years” in Boston and Cambridge. He started making weird, artsy minicomics in 1991, mostly because he worked in a copy shop and could make them for free. Since the release of Skibber Bee~Bye in 2000 though, he’s mostly been able to pay the bills by doing illustrations & comics for places like The New York Times and Canada’s National Post . He even got to design a bunch of lottery style scratch tickets that were supposed to persuade people like you from buying booze for minors (don’t ask). He’s had his art displayed in foreign countries and comics translated into languages he can’t read like French and Portuguese. Ron’s only other hobby is playing the drums, which he’s done in bands like Trollin Withdrawal, Tac Tic, and the Yes Girls. Chris Ware said about Ron, “Ron Rege, Jr. is probably the greatest ‘new cartoonist’ (whatever that is) I can think of. In the tradition of ‘pioneers’ like Herriman, Sterrett, McCay, et al, he has wholly reinvented the comic strip language to suit his own idiosyncratic vision; his apparently simple yet beautiful complex little line drawings seem to spring from the very essence of ‘the form’; they’re warm, funny, sad, smart, stupid and best of all, alive. His stuff should shut up every idiot who thinks the comic strip is ‘dead’.”
Mat Brinkman is probably the best artist in America and he couldn’t care less if you knew. That said, he also wears a jumpsuit made out of an afghan blanket and is founding member of the legendary Fort Thunder.
Isaac Lin is 26 and lives in Wilmington, Detroit. He was schooled at the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Painting. He works in drawing, painting (gouache), screen-printing, and sculpture and is currently working on OAKDALE t-shirt designs. He’s shown with Jim Houser, Dan Murphy, and Ben Woodward in LUMP Gallery in Raleigh and in 222 Gallery’s “Philly vs. NYC” show. He also collaborated with Andrew Jeffrey Wright to make Drawings for the Poor. He’s currently working on an album cover for ICY DEMONS and drawings for a group show at Spector Gallery.
Mumbleboy, aka Kinya Hanada from New York City, has made a name for himself in the world of Flash animation. His animations and images appearing first on computer monitors, then in art shows all over the world, and later as a real-time flash VJ. Mumbleboy’s work has been seen in The Face, New York Press, Tokion, Dazed & Confused, and Rolling Stone.
Tony Millionaire is the genius behind the alternative comic, Maakies, and the Eisner-winning comic book series Tony Millionaire’s Sock Mockey.
John Pham is 29 years old and lives in Los Angeles. In 2000, thanks to a generous grant from the Xeric Foundation, he published his first comic, Epoxy. After three issues and a trademark violation with a Canadian company, he is now working on a new comic, Substitute Life.
E*Rock is the founder of Portland based Audio Dregs Recordings, publisher of Thumb zine and a widely published visual artist and illustrator. After several years in the making E*Rock delivers his long awaited debut CD. E*Rock has previously released a collaborative EP with Harald “Sack” Ziegler (Staubgold, Mouse on Mars, Tomlab) and an album with his other “group” Carpet Musics (Audio Dregs), as well having made at least half a dozen compilation appearances in the past year. In addition E*Rock has produced soundtracks for dozens of projects by New York animator Mumbleboy, including a piece displayed last December in Grand Central Station.
Mark Todd was born and raised in Las Vegas, the city of sin, down the road from the neon strip where mega hotels dazzle tourists twenty-four hours a day. He graduated with honors from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California in 1993. He then moved to New York City along with his wife and fellow illustrator, Esther Pearl Watson, to pursue his career working with clients such as MTV, Coca-Cola, Sony Music, and The New Yorker. Recently, Mark and Esther returned to Southern California to continue freelance work and teach a self publishing class at Art Center. In 2005, Mark and Esther’s zine guidebook, Whatcha’ Mean What’s A Zine?, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Books.
It’s not often that we have a bunch of young comic artists gathered at one place, so take advantage and check out Ooh! Ah! Shangri-La! The show will only run until August 23, 2004 at the Cassius King Gallery located at 435 3rd Ave San Diego CA 92101 http://www.cassiusking.com
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