Thursday, April 20, 2017

Our Own Blood (Reuben)

Our Own Blood (Reuben)
11" x 14"
Mixed media

The mandrake is the symbol of Reuben, first son of Jacob; the biblical account tell us that he gave some mandrakes to his mother Leah to help with her infertility (Genesis 30:14). This papercut is made from comics featuring Marvel Comics' Wakandan King T’Challa, the Black Panther — the first black super hero in mainstream comic books. T’Challa’s birthright makes demands on him that he must balance against his own desires, as Reuben must later choose whether to wage war alongside his brothers. The pressure of primogeniture, the balance between family and responsibility to the outside world – these are the experiences of Reuben and T'Challa.

With representations of Black Panther drawn from his entire publication history – from his first appearances by Jack Kirby through the recent series written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and drawn by Brian Stelfreeze — this papercut is the first of twelve in my newest series, which is an exploration of diversity and family. Just as the tribes were different from one another in character and vision, so are the tribes that make up the United States — and our nation is at its best when we join together.

Each of the papercuts in the series is made from cut-up comics featuring a minority super hero, in an effort to focus on these less-frequently heard voices, and to celebrate them. At the same time, I think about this series as voices of American dissent, at a time when we must all stand together and speak up against evil to ensure that our vision of a more perfect union remains intact.

The series is showing through the first week of May (2017) at Brave New World Comics in Newhall, California; details here. The original "Our Own Blood (Reuben)" is still available for purchase; giclée prints of all twelve are available on my store site.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Sherlock LP

“The Sherlock LP” is a mixed media papercut I was commissioned to create for Steve Sherlock by his wife Dana on the occasion of their tenth wedding anniversary (and Steve’s birthday).

Steve is the drummer for Nerf Herder, one of the best bands of all time and a band that Shawna and I have seen SO MANY times in concert I can't count. Their music is sort of post-punk geek rock, and if you don't know their sound you should check them out now. Go ahead; I'll wait here. To be asked to create a piece for him was an honor and a privilege, and I'm so pleased to share it with you.

The papercut is a representation of all the things that Steve likes and that make him who he is… seen through the lens of the Sherlocks’ “long play” marriage. It takes the form of a record on a turntable (the actual size of the record here is 12 inches square, for authenticity), and it’s made of cut-up comic books and other ephemera to tell the story of Steve and Dana.

There’s a lot in here, including: their names (and Steve’s “Nerf Herder” nickname: the Cougar); their wedding date (February 2007); their shared musical interests (including quite a bit from Tom Waits, such as “Take It With Me,” which includes the lines “Always for you, and forever yours”), as well as some bands Steve likes; Steve’s interest in mid-century modern design; Star Trek (particularly Mr. Spock) and Star Wars (“I love you” — “I know”)... and even a little girl in a Devo shirt to represent their daughter. There’s a lot. The back of the piece includes a (mostly) complete listing of the comics that were cut up to make this piece, which include a comic from February 2007, characters with the name “Steve” (like Captain America) or music-related powers (like Dazzler), the liner notes from Devo’s 1980 “Freedom of Choice” LP, and: Ghostbusters, Star Wars, Star Trek, The Superman Family, The Walking Dead...

I was waiting to share this post, and then got distracted by the twelve tribes show, but the official Instagram post this weekend reminded me that it's time.