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Staff Comic – Lauren Bryant

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Necrophobia by Rand Michie

Hello to all you wonderful readers of Art Ducko!

My name is Rand Michie, and I’m here today to talk about a comic I’m currently writing, called Necrophobia. This is a psychological survival-horror graphic novel, set within what remains of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. You follow a young heroin addict (named Tristan) as he navigates the hellish remnants of a once-familiar world. The comic itself is about fears, how we project them into our lives and onto our environment. This ranges from fear of the unknown and unseen, or rather of the intimately known, but above all, the fear of death. Necrophobia deals with some pretty heavy subject matter, and can be quite graphic. As such, let me preface this by saying that this is a comic intended for mature readers.

We’re currently about to finish the third issue, and we’re compiling it all within Volume 1, set to be about 100 pages of grimy, nasty, wonderful art. More specifically on the nature of the art itself: Mackenzie Lageson is the illustrator, and his style is a wonderful marriage of detail-heavy woodcuts and the horrific anatomical detail you might see in Junji Ito’s work, all placed through a heavy fog of surrealism that permeates the story.

Again, this comic is about fears, and how they might warp the world should they all become free, simultaneously. This is exactly what has happened in Necrophobia: the vast collective gestalt of human fear, a sort of superconsciousness, was released due to a mysterious cataclysm. This killed most people outright, and left the world behind a twisted, hellish reflection. The world we know is gone in Necrophobia; what Tristan and the other survivors are faced with is what that primal part of the brain might see, where every single thing is a potential danger, and the vestigial, half-formed desires and fears that we don’t even consciously process on a daily basis are now coming to life. It is a world where your nightmares are clad in bone and blood, and seep up through the floors at night, or unfold on long rickety legs from beneath the bed. It is, in short, a world where fear is made flesh, and only the strongest, or the most desperate, can survive.

So, if you dare, follow Tristan as he moves through this terrifying and fascinating landscape. You’ll encounter all sorts of nasty things, but so too will you engage with human fear and emotion in a bare and raw fashion, as the scattered survivors of this disaster struggle to make sense of what killed the world.

Thank you for your time, and if you’re interested, you can read Necrophobia online here: http://necrophobia.webcomic.ws/

You can find out more about Necrophobia and all of our other projects at http://library-comics.com, and if you have any questions feel free to email us there.
We’re running a kickstarter for Necrophobia (83% funded!) that ends on February 16th. We’d love it if you checked it out, so click here!

The Value of Cartoons and Comics: What Cartoons and Comics Mean to Me within the World of High Art – By Kaitlyn McCafferty

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The Value of Cartoons and Comics: What Cartoons and Comics Mean to Me within the World of High Art – By Kaitlyn McCafferty

The situation of a cartoon or comic academic is an odd one. When I’ve told people that I’m minoring in comics and cartoon studies, I’ve received many a skeptical reply. Within the art world in particular, cartoons and comics aren’t necessarily esteemed mediums. It’s very uncommon for comics, cartoons, and high art to exist within the same mental and physical space. Perhaps, however, this is a defining characteristic for comics and cartoons, as well as a primary reason why they are so valuable.

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Studying art at university, I’m often encountered with the question, “who decides what art is?” On one hand, the answer is: everyone. On the other hand, the answer is: rich people. The upper class, throughout history, with money, sponsoring, and commissions., has dictated what is and what is not “high art.”

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(Fig 1-Fan art I did for Young Justice six years ago.)

This “high art” was completely lost to me up until last year, when I started going to college. I grew up in a small town, going to small schools. I was not exposed to very much art growing up. My interest in art originated with comics and cartoons; my love of Pucca, X Men, Fruits Basket, Justice League, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Young Justice spurred me to practice drawing. I now feel comics and cartoons play this fundamental part in all of my works, influencing the way I approach art in general.

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(Fig 2-A still from a project I am working on now about childhood memory, fantasy, and gender identity, using hand-drawn animations.)

I find one reason comics and cartoons aren’t seen as high art is because of this idea that they’re a medium for children. I know this isn’t necessarily always true (adult comics and cartoons exist), but I also don’t think that this fact is shameful or bad. The accessibility of understanding is so valuable. And this ability to create something meaningful and complex, but deliver it in a simple enough way for a child to understand, is humane, earnest, and takes a lot of deliberation and skill. I value that kind of artistic delivery.

I also think there’s something to be said about the accessibility of drawing as a medium. Drawing doesn’t require extensive education to do. And it also only requires a pen and paper. I think this is really valuable too. Many people who wouldn’t consider themselves artists doodle or draw. It’s an accessible form of creation that a wide range of people can take part in.

I’m extremely thankful for the education that I have and my ability to follow along with “high art” now. I can invest more in art theory and expand the range of what I am able to do, beyond character designs and background sketches. But I also think it is important to realize that this education is accessible to a very small, particular range of people. I think an intrinsic characteristic of high art is that it is exclusive and inaccessible. Because it requires extensive art education, as well as money to produce and appeal to the upper class consumer, high art is not meant for everyone.

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Cartoons and comics, on the other hand, usually are. Of course, one can look at comics and cartoons as this artistic medium in which anything can transpire. This is exactly what Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly had in mind when they created the comics magazine, Raw. This magazine took artistic values from the world of high art and applied them to a comics format, begging the question, “Why can’t comics be high art?”

My answer is: they can, but I don’t want them to be. All of the factors that go into what makes something high art are complete antonyms to the many reasons I love cartoons and comics so much. Within art, I find community and this experience of understanding and being understood. And I think comics and cartoons play an incredibly valuable part in that; they’re a form of art that—more often than not—creates a type of communication in which everyone can be involved. So, I suppose, even though I’m being exposed to so much more art now, the medium of comics and cartoons is more valuable to me than most others.