Title: The Witch-king of Angmar
Artist: Gus Møystad
In discussing this commission from Gus, I told him that I was very drawn to the way his figures displayed an unsettling mix of elegance and strangeness. The recognizably human elements are often blended with strange almost architectural details, heightening the surreality and blurring the line between reality and fantasy. This is some potent stuff, so I was very eager to see what Gus would do with the Witch-king of Angmar. His commission is above, and I was spellbound, as I had hoped. While the scan does the image some justice, in reality the colors are even more subtly variegated, beautifully toned, and perfectly complementary to the composition and figure. This is an amazing piece.
A new addition to my collection of Nazgul and Witch-king of Angmar art commisions.
"The ancients built Valdrada on the shores of a lake, with houses all verandas one above the other, and high streets whose railed parapets
look out over the water. Thus the traveler, arriving, sees two cities: one erect above the lake, and the other reflected, upside down…
Every face and gesture is answered, from the mirror, by a face and gesture inverted, point by point…The two Valdradas live for each other, their eyes interlocked; but there is no love between them.”
INVISIBLE CITIES: Valdrada
Paper cutouts, gouache, and colored pencil on watercolor paper
August 13th, 2014
artist: Joe Kuth
Some really lovely work from Joe Kuth using paper cutouts and more to reveal his vision of Valdrada from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. Check out our group tumblr Seeing Calvino for more Invisible Cities from Joe, me and friend Leighton Connor.
Josh Bayer's work manages the paradox of being both uniquely personal and broadly universal, which I find deeply affecting. His newest comic Theth is his most accomplished, direct, brutal and seemingly autobiographical yet. While Bayer does not explicit indicate that Theth is based directly on his own life or experiences, there is such a searing honesty and integrity to his work overall that it is difficult not to project Bayer into the story somehow. And that strengthens rather than detracts from a narrative that is visually explosive and emotionally shattering in unexpected ways.
The personal details are all there - a childhood spent in Ohio, the dreary landscape of a snowy, grubby suburbia serving as the backdrop, the recent murder of John Lennon dominating both Theth’s home life and his school room discussions, Theth lying to his parents about going to the library when he really went to the drug store to read the comics he didn’t have enough money to buy. All of these details are shown with such a furiously vivid line that one can’t help but assume Bayer is telling us something about his own life. And yet how many of us who grew up reading comic books in the 70s and 80s did not experience the same sense of loneliness and confusion that the outcast Theth grapples with? Theth slips almost unknowingly in and out of a fantasy world dominated by ROM the Spaceknight (here in epic battle with Firefall) but it is here that Theth seems at peace. Comics were, especially in those earlier decades, both the mark of the outcast and the means of providing the outcast with some sort of comfort, and a feeling that there was a place they could feel like they belonged even if that was between the smudgy newsprint pages of a Marvel comic. Bayer locks on to this with such force and authority that Theth could almost read as a manifesto for all of us with awkward and painful childhoods made somewhat more bearable by the curse of comics.
There is an intense sense of loneliness in Theth as well. A sense of confusion, a confused tangle of ideas and philosophies all savagely competing for mental real estate in the mind of young Theth. The character struggles to navigate a fractured family, an indifferent and distant stepmother, an escapist worship of ROM and Sgt. Rock stand-in Sgt. Hard, a chilling encounter in the drug store with Bile Duct, and the final climactic after-school fight with Nathan which leads to the shattering conclusion. Bayer has too much respect for his reader to spell things out, to tell us what to think and what is right. He spills his guts on the page and leaves the story there for us, making no value judgments and leaving no road map. Reading Bayer’s comics is not an easy path to walk, but it’s one of the most rewarding and most necessary explorations of the language and meaning and importance of comics I’ve ever seen. Truly, there is nothing like what Bayer is making here.
witch king complete!
Oh WOW! I just saw this in my email too and I can hardly believe that this Witch-king of Angmar will soon be hanging on MY WALL! Daria Tesler (the artist who created this) is absolutely divinely brilliant, and she has lots and lots of amazing and very affordable prints available at her site, which is right here. Click on the little house and be ready for wonder! I haven’t been able to show this to my wife yet (I will in 2 hours when I get home) but I know she will love it. Thank you Daria!!!
(Drawing above by Mervyne Peake. A blindfolded Titus is being carried through the woods to his Earling ceremony.)
It is the eighth day of the eighth month. Without fail, I think of Titus Groan every year on this day, his birthday. The Gormenghast books by Mervyn Peake have meant more to me than anything else ever written. Even Moby-Dick. If you have not read them, I cannot recommend them highly enough.
"Titus is seven. His confines, Gormenghast. Suckled on shadows; weaned, as it were, on webs of ritual: for his ears, echoes, for his eyes, a labyrinth of stone: and yet within his body something other – other than this umbrageous legacy. For first and ever foremost he is child.
A ritual, more compelling than ever devised, is fighting anchored darkness. A ritual of the blood; of the jumping blood. These quicks of sentience owe nothing to his forebears, but to those feckless hosts, a trillion deep, of the globe’s childhood.
The gift of bright blood. Of blood that laughs when the tenets mutter ‘Weep’. Of blood that mourns when the sere laws croak ‘Rejoice!’ O little revolution in great shades!
Titus the seventy-seventh. Heir to a crumbling summit: to a sea of nettles: to an empire of red rust: to rituals’ footprints ankle-deep in stone. Gormenghast.
What do I care for the symbolism of it all? What do I care if the castle’s heart is sound or not? I don’t want to be sound anyway! Anybody can be sound if they’re always doing what they’re told. I want to live! Can’t you see? Oh, can’t you see? I want to be myself, and become what I make myself, a person, a real live person and not a symbol anymore.”
"A voluptuous vibration constantly stirs Chloe, the most chaste of cities. If men and women began to live their ephemeral dreams, every phantom would become a person with whom to begin a story of pursuits, pretenses, misunderstandings, clashes, oppressions, and the carousel of fantasies would stop."
10 inches by 8 inches
ink on watercolor paper
August 5, 2014
artist: Matt Kish
The next of my illustrations for Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. This one was incredibly difficult for me to conceptualize, but I am pleased with the result. You can see all of the Cities illustrated so far at the Seeing Calvino group art tumblr linked to above.
I will be posting much less frequently throughout August and most of September. I will be traveling throughout the country a great deal as well as working in solitude at several ongoing projects. I will also be watching 16 Werner Herzog films. Internet and email access will be sporadic at best. If your need to contact me is crucial, call me or text me.
Jeffrey Meyer, Mrmd on Hr Tos (2012), paper collage, 8 x 11 inches | website.
Jeffrey Meyer is an artist who I have a great deal of respect for. He is immensely talented and he is uncompromising in his vision and his values. I have exchanged a handful of emails with him over the years and I have always benefited from his advice and his perspective. Jeffrey has recently started a tumblr named Art by Jeffrey Meyer showcasing his impressive body of collages and other work. You should follow this tumblr. Jeffrey also maintains a static web site which also showcases a great deal of his art. Do take a look.
Artist: David Lunde Sanchez
One of the many things I have enjoyed about assembling this personal collection of Witch-king of Angmar and Nazgul art has been the wildly different and uniquely personal ways in which each and every artist involved has interpreted the character. David Lunde Sanchez, a brilliant artist and cartoonist from Norway, is a perfect example of that. His Witch-king is the most recent addition to my collection, and I love how David created something that is at once oddly childlike and whimsical but still contains an element of mystery and menace. David maintains a tumblr of his own art and regularly updates his wonderful comic Under the Weather which is well worth spending some time with.
From my Nazgul art collection blog, another brilliant addition to the collection.
Peg-Leg Pete by Matt Kish
Matt Kish and I had an art trade. I made a Witch King for his Witch King collection and he made me this magnificent Peg-Leg Pete!
I became friends with David Lunde Sanchez (who lives in Norway) through the Character Wednesday group art tumblr that he and I both contribute to. I was immediately smitten with his art, which is simultaneously child-like, surreal, refreshingly sincere and still dreamlike. I was a fan right away, and I continue to admire how David can tell a complete story with deceptively simple images.
I had been trying to come up with a way to get some of David’s art on my own wall, so I approached him about a trade. I asked him if he would draw a Witch-king of Angmar for me, for my collection of Nazgul art, and I would draw him whatever character he chose. And he agreed! David, like all sane people with excellent taste, is an admirer of Carl Barks and Floyd Gottfredson, so his request was for me to draw Mickey Mouse’s early nemesis, Peg-Leg Pete. I finished the piece over the weekend and here it is ready for it’s trip to Norway.
I will post David’s Witch-king very soon (it is INCREDIBLE) but in the meantime, you should follow David’s very frequently updated art tumblr here, read his comic “Under the Weather” here, and take a look at his brilliant Mickey Mouse art here. And if you’re so inclined, reach out and say hello to David online. He’s not only a fantastic artist, he’s also a really great guy and I’m glad he’s in my life.