Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day Special

1. "Character Study, Towne Restaurant," date unknown (c. 1990) 2. "Apparition of Modern Day Mary"

3. "Wake Up"

4. "Freedom or Bread"

These charming illustrations, drawn by the artist's father, perfectly capture his quick, effortless style and knack for absurd humor. In the top study, drawn on a placemat at the Towne Restaurant (a Greek eatery in Buffalo, New York), a noirish cast of five—moody tough, bouffanted moll, sinister thug, mysterioso man, and scowling dame—suggests myriad plot possibilities. The woebegone pooch and suspiciously elongated car only add to the mystery.

The other three sketches, inspired by (and parodying) his son's Saturnhead strips, were executed on standard-size prescription-pad paper. In "Apparition of Modern Day Mary," a patient's complaint and wish ("Please cure me") is heard by the silent Mary figure; the information appears to be sent via computer to the "Super National Institutes of Health"; and Mary advises (without opening her mouth) to "Try Aspirin, 1 tab/day."

"Wake Up" is a superbly minimalist golf fantasia, the spell finally broken by the Kafkaesque notation: "Your father is on the phone."

And in "Freedom or Bread," the impossibility of having it all appears to have knocked Mr. Saturnhead out cold.

These hilarious miniatures were discovered cheek-by-jowl with the artist's own sketches and strips, and suggest an important "recirculating" inspiration.

—Assorted sketches, c. 1989-1991

Thursday, June 08, 2006

"My Dinner With Myself"

This one pulls out all the stops—wordy narration, dialogue, disorienting shirt patterns, disorienting wall/floor constructs. (Even the title triangle has a strange embellishment at the tip; Cf. the one here.) The furrows in the hero's brow (panel 3) are slightly disturbing, as are the Dagwoodian tadpoles of sweat. The strip, which is more or less autobiographical, "works"—despite this level of detail, or because of it? Further strangeness: a menu that says MEN U (panel 1), and the odd icon after the signature (panel 3).

—From The Yale Herald, April 12, 1991 (Vol. XI, issue 47)