Monocyte #4, the post apocalyptic, muti-species battle story love child of Menton3 and Kasra Ghanbari, will hit stores on May 23 and conclude the series. I’ve been covering this series since the beginning and it has raised the bar in both artistic chutzpah and writing prowess for comic books to a godly level. Yes, I am a fan. Monocyte is a story of two species locked in a never ending battle, using and throwing away what humans are left on the planet as tools of life force, weapons of mutilation and play things. Monocyte is the being sent to put an end to their nonsense and clear the clutter left behind. He does his job with pure brutality, staggering insight and intelligence, style and grace.
I promise you have not read a story like this one before. It’s everything I always wanted to find in a comic but never thought was possible. If you want something heavier, something thicker, something more cranial in your comic collection, Monocyte is just that. The poetic writing of Kasra Ghanbari and the other worldley artwork of Menton3 come together in a tender, perfect embrace that other comic teams can only dream of. Monocyte #4 will feature 3 covers plus interior art by Chris Newman and Ben Templesmith. Preview here!
I will follow up with a full review of Monocyte #4 after release, of course. If you haven’t already picked up Saltillo’s Monocyte album (have you not been paying attention?) then now is the time. The cd, released earlier this year, was on the top 50 electronic releases on iTunes and nabbed the #1 spot for industrial sellers on Amazon for over a week. Artoffact Records has now released Monocyte: The Lapis Coil on vinyl, which includes three tracks from the CD, two new remixes, and an exclusive new track called Necromancy. It will also contain some amazing artwork by Menton3. The vinyl is limited to 492 copies and will also be released digitally to iTunes and Amazon MP3.
Last, but certainly not least, IDW will bless us all with more treasure to add to the Monocyte collection: a 224 page, hardcover collected edition that will include the entire Monocyte series, with all covers, plus over 60 pages of brand new content. This book boasts a huge roster of incredible talent like Ashley Wood, Bill Sienkiewicz, George Pratt, Phil Hale, Barron Storey, Ben Templesmith, Riley Rossmo, Christopher Mitten, David Stoupakis, and Chris Newman. You’ll also get all the slave stories that were written for each issue and the series prequel, previously only available digitally. This book will be the one to own not only for fans of the work of Menton3, but comic collector who want the ultimate in impressive, unique hard cover brag material on their shelf.
The Monocyte collected edition is in the May Previews for pre ordering, which means do some pre ordering! It’s how you show those guys and girls at your local comic shop what you want and how you are guaranteed to get it.
Creation/writing: Menton3 and Kasra Ghanbari
I am so fucking in love with Monocyte. It has been so long since I’ve read a story that not only grows and morphs along the way, but only increases in intensity and substance. Monocyte never relies on shock, never forces you to accept it using cheap tricks like ineffectual violence or sensory offense. It creeps in quietly, requiring your full attention to keep up with an incredibly complex vocabulary; once you are wrapped up in the mythos and alien quality of the landscape, Monocyte lashes out with an uncompromising attack on your belief in the world around you and of time itself. I am not being melodramatic here, this shit is real and it is not taking prisoners.
In Monocyte #3, we join the Antedeluvians as they prepare for the wrath of Monocyte to drop down on their city. We discover betrayal from within, and are treated with some incredibly rich history of the pre-war beginnings of Monocyte. This issue leaves us with a battle that could, possibly prove the most challenging yet for the seemingly indestructible bringer of eternal death.
Part of what makes the Monocyte books so unique is the extra bonus of mini stories at the end of each. These are written and drawn by very talented names, sometimes flying under the radar, and offer the reader some engrossing perspectives of the human slaves that both the Antedeluvians and Olignostics use as immortality nourishment. Monocyte #3 includes stories by Christopher Mitten (Wasteland, Criminal Macabre, The Dark Crystal) and George Pratt ( Enemy Ace: War Idyll, Wolverine: Netsuke). Personally, my favorite this time around was Christopher Mitten’s contribution. His artwork is so luscious to look at and feels like a natural accompaniment to the other-wordly creations of Menton3.
Monocyte #3 is available with various covers, each one full of awesome in a fresh way. For this issue, you can have the A wraparound cover by Menton3, the B wraparound cover by Ben Templesmith or the incentive cover by George Pratt. I’ve made it a goal to collect every cover of each issue that I can get my greedy hands.
This book asks so much more of it’s readers than a casual understanding and enjoyment. It asks that you bend your concepts of the future, present and past. It demands that you ponder the possibility that the human race is by no means the most powerful or malicious species in existence, and to accept that we all possess innate flaws, the largest being mortality. And let’s not fail to mention the spine of Monocyte, the black blood that flows through it’s veins which is the artwork of Menton3. I have praised the genius of this man’s creations many times here on Nerds in Babeland, so I will keep this short, but this art is so much more than art. Each issue seems to add a new layer to the graphics, a luxuriousness that is all too rare in modern art. His work drips with texture from the heart, emotion boils over the edges of the page. Menton’s art hangs on the walls in my home and I’ve never seen someone walk past it for the first time without stopping to stare for several seconds, eventually asking me to explain what they’re seeing and who made it. In my humble opinion, there is no match in the comic industry right now to the level of work that Menton3 is producing.
Monocyte hits shelves on March 21. I can tell you these things sell out fast, so if you can get your hands on #1-#3, snatch them up. And remember, creator owned support means pre-ordering, so if you love Monocyte, please pre-order your next copy!
Although not a huge follower of ‘pop art’ I’ve always felt a special draw towards the art of Tara McPherson. I own her last book, Lost Constellations, and have her prints on my wall. She has a very distinct style that manages to stand out among a sea of modern pop culture art, a delicate touch of feminine aesthetics mixed with vibrant colors and sharp lines. McPherson has worked on everything an artist can put a pen to including concert posters, circus flyers, art prints, toys, electronics and novelty items; one of my favorites is her coloring book. The bookmarks, sketch books and other fun accessories feel a bit like a grown up, slightly twisted and dark Lisa Frank, the line of super bright, sparkly sticker and coloring kits for tweens.
Not to understate the gorgeous work that is the foundation of Tara McPherson’s art empire, Bunny in the Moon is yet another well developed collection of colorful, macabre scenes from somewhere deep in her imagination. As Morgan Spurlock says in his doting foreword, “From her first rock poster to her last solo show, Tara has been and remains an uncompromising artist, creating both a body of work and mainstream art-pop success that are unlike anything else in the art scene.”
The book opens with some of McPherson’s trademark beautiful females, surrounded by heavily detailed graphics that express each character in their own world. The artist has a skill for giving the impression of a story being told, one that you are as much the author of as she is, using just one main character, often blanketed by celestial entities, spirit animals or dripping in viscous fluids.
She then invites readers to follow her through the creation process from rough sketches to polished, multi-layered oil paintings. I find this quite fun, especially in a world largely dominated by digital art; seeing the hand drawn lines as she creates them feels like a rare peek into McPherson’s personal sketch book.
I’m not a ‘hearts and flowers’ kind of girl, I don’t care for art that uses the female body strictly as a cheap tool of stimulation or shock value. One of the things I appreciate about Tara McPherson is that she manages to portray a definite feminine charm without too much fluff or overt sexualism. Her characters don’t adhere to puritanical boundaries (much of the work is NSFW) but they are entangled in scenes of power, manipulation and dark, sometimes morbid engagements. For long time fans of McPherson she revisits a few classic favorites like the ‘Wiggles’. The artist’s work maintains the same trademarks as it has from the beginning: a perfect blend of sweet girlishness, rock star edge, malicious intent and floaty, surreal fantasy environments.
I recommend this book for any level of art lover, but especially those who feel less than satisfied with some of the ‘modern pop art’ available today. Bunny in the Moon is an art collection that will always spark conversation and interest among a variety of casual coffee table perusers.
Bunny in the Moon hits shelves March 14, and is available now for pre-order through Dark Horse Comics.
The highly respected La Luz De Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles hosts an annual show to feature the freshest, most unique and anticipated artists. The gallery had over 9,000 art submissions and only accepted around 125 artists to be in the show. Jurors took submissions from artists of multiple mediums and backgrounds including commercial illustrators, graphic designers, tattooists, scenics, students, animators and working gallery artists. “This is the one show annually that most patrons look forward to seeing, as it’s a chance to discover new artists in the venue that has launched so many careers,” notes gallery director Matt Kennedy. “Every year we manage to discover a new conglomeration of fresh talent, and among them a class of breakout successes.
I’m so proud to say that at least two fantastic comic book artists earned spots in Laluzapalooza this year, Menton3 and David Mack. Menton3 is the artist/creator of Monocyte, contributing artist for Silent Hill and artist for upcoming Dark Horse Comics publication Nosferatu Wars. The piece featured from Menton is also a page from Monocyte #3! David Mack is the creator/artist/writer of Kabuki, has done covers for Alias and Daredevil.
Laluzapalooza runs from March 2 through April 1, at the La Luz De Jesus Gallery. If you’re in the L.A. area, this show is a must see for the scoop on some of the most impressive up and coming alternative artists. See more of the art pieces featured in the show here.
Photos: Steve Prue, with additional photography by Kate Black, Yumna, and Andras Frenyo
Front and back cover photography by Clayton Cubitt
Molly Crabapple is a modern artist in so many ways. She delves into social networking, online fund raising opportunities (Kickstarter) and invites fans to get involved first hand in her various artistic projects. Her art is like a daydreaming doodle let loose to roam, growing so large and complex that it crawls beyond the boundaries of the page. I’ve always been a fidgety doodler myself, and have wondered, on occasion, if there are artists out there who have developed the skill of the doodle in to more disciplined creations that can be considered full blown works of art. Molly has done just that and in a most impressive, beautiful way.
Molly Crabapple is best known as the founder of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti Art School, an alternative to the stiff, school room approach of art education. Dr. Sketchy’s utilizes the titillating faces and forms of various underground performance artists and boasts guest appearances from artists like Ron English, Audrey Kawasaki and Ben Templesmith. The doors are open to all artists. I’ve never had the opportunity to visit my local Dr. Sketchy’s, here in NY, but looking at pictures, videos and blog posts, it looks like a year round birthday party for David Lynch.
So, here’s the low down: Molly’s 28th birthday was approaching and she wanted to celebrate in a special way. She chose to ‘go crazy’, documenting every step of her journey in drawings, photos and videos. The endeavor was funded by a Kickstarter campaign, raising an astonishing $25,805 in pledges; backers were rewarded with live streaming of the Week in Hell and receiving actual pieces of the art walls created during it. Molly locked herself in a fancy hotel suite in NYC, covered the walls in lots and lots of paper, brought plenty of booze and drew until her pretty little fingers could stand no more. She stayed in those rooms for 5 days and welcomed many visitors including close friends, dancers, artists, press and possibly a monkey or two. Ok, maybe that didn’t happen, but it sort of did. Some of these visitors were drawn on the walls, becoming living pieces of the swirly, lacey landscapes pouring from Molly’s imagination.
Lucky for the rest of us, Molly’s Week in Hell is being published as a photo collection, including lots of added sketching and notes from the artist. I had the honor of previewing this collection and it fucking rocks. It’s sweet and pretty, eccentric and weird, comfy and soft, raucous and heady with subdued sex appeal. It’s like peeking in the window of an aristocratic party, the attendees being swanky artists, bohemians, circus performers and musicians. You want so badly to be one of them. You know you can’t be; there is a special, intimate magic happening between these people. The white rabbit could show up at any moment and clink his champagne glass with Molly’s.
I’m a big fan of nicely made art and photo books, even if I’m the only one around my house who picks them up repeatedly to enjoy the eye candy they promote. Week in Hell is a must have and available for pre-order through Amazon right now. Get it, if you want to party with the cool kids. Or not, but don’t blame me when you realize how much seductive color is missing from your life because of your choice to pass this book by. Yes, it’s that’s good. In case you’re being ridiculous and not taking my word on this, watch the video below. Call me later so I can say ‘I told you so’.
Guest Post by T. Johnson
Heroes and Villains, an exhibit featuring the art of comic book great Alex Ross, is currently at Pittsburgh’s Warhol Museum. It includes over 130 works, including paintings, drawings, small sculptures, and even childhood material. I recently visited the Warhol to check it out and was awed by the skill and incredible range of Ross’s work.
I’ve been impressed by his painted comics since reading the graphic novel series The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes some years before, especially enjoying the JLA: Secret Origins story. This show has a lot more Justice League stuff, plus a generous helping of Marvel characters and miscellaneous drawings.
Fans of Ross know that he depicts his hero subjects in a hyper-realistic yet idealized fashion. You can tell right away that this is the work of someone who has always loved comics. Like many artists (and fans), he became interested at a young age, and one of his first drawings of Spider-Man (done at age 4) can be seen at the exhibit.
By age eight, he was drawing his own books, and he eventually studied formally at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. Ross was initially noted for Marvels (1994), a re-telling (by Kurt Busiek) of the origins of Marvel Comics characters as witnessed by news photographer/Everyman Phil Sheldon. A group of sketches and actual covers for Marvels is in the show, including a poignant painting of the X-Man Angel protectively holding a child in his arms while anti-mutant protestors rage below him.
It was the artist`s life-long love of the Justice League which inspired DC series Kingdom Come (1996) and Greatest Super-Heroes (1998-2003). The show is heavy on DC characters: detailed portraits of nearly every JLA member are the first works one notices. There`s even a section on 1970`s Hanna-Barbera TV show Super-Friends, an early influence on the young Ross. Super-Friends episodes play on a small screen near sketches for Kingdom Come.
Ross emphasizes the positive qualities of comic book heroes. His universe is one of moral absolutes, with little room for ambiguity. Yet the triumph of good over evil he portrays feels fresh and optimistic rather than cliched. In fact, I got a sense of this optimism just by observing the delighted reactions of viewers. Whether devoted older fans or very young children, everyone was excited and chatting about the art.
The exhibit also has a small selection of works by Ross’s other influences, 1940`s illustrators Norman Rockwell and J.C. Leyendecker. And there is art by his mother, former fashion artist Lynnette Ross. Appropriately enough, this includes a charming pencil drawing of a model dressed in a “Bat-lady” outfit with wings and a cowl!
It`s hard to not be enthused about this detailed and well-curated retrospective, and the added bonus is that Heroes and Villains is done with such respect for comic book art. This is truly an unusual show which is well worth the trip for any fan.
T. Johnson is a blogger, au pair, and part-time tutor who has been obsessed with science fiction and comics since roughly first grade. One of her life`s big revelations was discovering Wonder Woman comics-another milestone was starting to read the works of Heinlein and Aldous Huxley. She has always been convinced that girls can be as truly nerdy as any fanboy.
words by Michelle Naka Pierce, images by Sue Hammond West
Review by Jenn Zuko Boughn
In any creative-writing class I’ve taught recently, I’ve instructed students, when doing daily creative journaling, to make sure they include both image and text in each entry. I do this because of several reasons (some of which can be found in Diehn’s The Decorated Page) but the strongest reason I have for this discipline is that it seems all writing these days has an imagistic aspect to it. From blog posts to graphic novels to novels like Like Water For Chocolate with long image or sound-only chapters, to interactive, new-media presentations, it’s rare to sit down with a (short, especially) piece of writing without a visual.
Pierce and West’s volume of poetry uses this image/text interdependence with the artistry and care of a good picture book, yet for an adult audience. Pierce’s Gertrude-Stein-esque musical repetition and richness of word choice work in tandem with West’s urban/organic paintings to good effect. The best entries in this volume are the ones in which the text is arranged in an unusual visual way, and the image incorporates text, thereby adding more layers to the text/image dance. This multi-layering of literary and visual art gives the reader more and more to sit with before turning each page.
Another engaging aspect to She is the map-like, film-like titles to each chunk of text. The poems are called “Lot”s or “Cut”s and the different-fonted titles to the images are called “Legend”s. These bring to mind auctions, film clips, map keys, and other images to the entries, and again are onion-layers of meaning.
She is a book one can spend time with—absorbing each page-spread before continuing. It does what good poetry (and visual art) should do: it builds imagery in the reader’s mind, so that the book changes with the reader each time she comes back to it. ~Prof. Jenn
Recently I went on a vacation with my family. I thought that I couldn’t possibly find a way to nerd out on my trip as I was going to the Caribbean, but I was wrong!
During one of the information sessions on the cruise, I was super excited about going to see “That Yoda guy” aka Nick Maley. Nick was involved in the creation of that lovable green Jedi Master.
We floated over to St. Maarten on the dutch side of the island and I was thrilled to find that Nick was actually located on that side on the main drag.
Maley worked on 53 movies (including Superman, Krull and Highlander) before “trading his Ferrari for a sailboat” and making his home on St. Maarten.
When we entered, I have to admit I was a little trigger happy before his wife asked us nicely not to take a lot of photos. His gallery was separated into the artwork that he has worked on since settling in the Caribbean, and a private gallery that we would have been able to view if our purchase was high enough. Sadly, we didn’t reach that level (we were off by ten dollars and I didn’t want to beg and plead to go back there), but we could see a little bit of the private gallery through the fenced off area.
Nick’s work is incredibly impressive, especially his figure studies. He captures expressions and emotions very well and it is obvious that he still dreams of Dagobah.
Mr. Maley was very kind and courteous and his gallery showcased a balance of his past and present endeavors. I was nice to meet someone outside of the sometimes stressful convention atmosphere. He was also kind enough to point us in the correct direction of the delicious native cuisine (curries and jerks! curries and jerks! om nom nom nom!)
If you do happen to make it to St. Maarten at some point in your life, I highly suggest visiting the dutch side and spending a few minutes with “That Yoda Guy”.
If you want to hear more about my trip (which was far less nerdy than I was accustomed to), I made a video recap.
For more information on Nick Maley, please visit his site. In the navigational bar there is a link to visit his Star Wars history blog where he recounts some stories from his past work.
Our first DIY project is something easy and fun to do. You can make Salt Dough magnets and key ring for friends or as an activity with children as young as ten, as long as an adult handles the oven duties.
Decorative magnets and key rings are handy and multipurpose. In the past for dinner parties for friends, I have made salt dough key rings to double as napkin holders which turned into great party favors. The key is to sculpt something you know your friend enjoys. You have fun making it and hopefully they get a kick out of taking something home that was made just for them.
½ cup / 400ml water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 ¼ cup / 300g all purpose flour
1 ¼ cup / 300g salt
Large mixing bowl
Flat surface to sculpt on
Glass of water
Small circle magnets
First Set the oven to 350 degrees F/ Gas Mark 4.
Mix the water, oil, flour, and salt into a soft dough in the bowl with your mixing spoon. If you prefer to mix it with your hands go ahead it won’t ruin it.
Sprinkle some flour on the flat surface. Turn the dough out onto the table. Knead it until it’s smooth and pliable. Then roll out your dough with your rolling pin until it is at least ½ inch thick.
You can use a knife to cut and shape out any figure you like or use a cookie cutter . As an example, with the knife I shaped a dinosaur , a foot and a Tar- (copyright laws being what they are, we will just call it police call box) and with the cookie cutter I cut out a star. For the pieces you wish to turn into key rings remember to make a small hole.
After you have sculpted your pieces place them on the baking sheet and bake them for 20 minutes at 350 degrees / Gas Mark 4.
Once baked, let your sculptures cool on the cooling rack for about another 20 minutes.
Once they have cooled, paint them with your poster paints. For easy cleanup layer some newspaper on your work surface. Use good single strokes to apply the paint Once the paint dries, brush on a single coat of varnish.
Once the varnish is dry, run the ribbons through the hole in the sculptures and then tie the ribbon to your key ring. For magnet models, glue the magnets on the back and allow them to bond. Once dry you can use them or give them to a friend. Voila! In just a few hours you have made something unique and hopefully had a fun time doing it.
Reminds me of the pics of me in a tiara and roller skates… also me as Smee, looking sweet, many years later. The one, I’m probably 5 or 6? (Mom, help?) the other, I’m a sophomore in high school. So 14-ish.