Robot 6

James Jean leaves U.S. angry and broke, reemerges in Asia poor and happy

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We’ve been taking an active interest in James Jean’s post-comics career in fine art, covering the multiple-Eisner winner’s exhibition Parallel Lives at New York City’s Jack Tilton Gallery in January, and featuring the innovative e-book created from that show’s catalog in June. However, a worrying interview with Juxtapoz magazine designed to publicize the show makes it clear Jean’s head was in a very negative place, preoccupied with the details of a messy and painful divorce that was on the verge of leaving him bankrupt and at the end of his tether.

Jean’s response to the situation appears to have been to disappear for a while, but he’s reemerged in Asia, seemingly never being too specific about his location, and posting this message via his Instagram account:

“Hello, everyone. Sorry I’ve been away for so long–I’ve missed you but I’m not quite back either. I may never come back… It’s been 6 months since I was forced to shutter everything in LA and moved overseas. No more home, studio, car, or bank accounts. Life is simpler now with only a sketchbook and a camera at my side, the basic necessities obtained through barter.”

I dare say there’s an element of exaggeration and self-myth building in that statement, but I’ll take it mainly at face value. Part of this new lifestyle must mean jettisoning the upkeep of his web domain, as Jean is now instead posting new art via Tumblr: After starting it in January, huge amounts of art was info-dumped there in February, March and April. Now knowing his state of mind in the past year or so, it’s hard not to reevaluate his work, looking for signs of the tumult he found himself in. In retrospect, images of characters being overcame by forces of nature, chaos and entropy are everywhere in his art. This recent piece is a fairly extreme (and somewhat NSFW) example of this leitmotif.

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Here’s a couple of mildly NSFW GIFs hosted at the Tumblr that also reveal a certain anger and frustration emerging in Jean’s work. Here’s hoping the man achieves the peace he’s seeking.

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8 Comments

This is an important update, not just because of Mr. Jean’s connective legacy to comic art, but also because his work is pertinent to the often delicate tissue that links fine and commercial art. Hopefully, the recent upheavals in his personal life will serve as a much-needed creative valve for the pain and disappointment that he will hopefully rise above, and not as an irreparable descent into depression, or worse. Please continue to post information as it becomes available.

I loved his Fables work! I wish him only the best.

art and turmoil go hand and hand right?
If he’s lost a fortune in a divorce (that club has a plethora of members) and is living spartan at the moment, he’ll look back on it a decade or two from now, not fondly, but as something that has enriched him in a way…. all for the betterment of art.
Art is born from experience as much as imagination, sometimes getting turned on your ear is a good thing.

brendan mccarthy

August 14, 2013 at 1:20 pm

A great talent. Sometimes difficult times lead to emotional growth and artistic breakthroughs.

This man needs psychiatric help… Right now.

It sounds like her lawyers are using her as much as they are using Jean himself. Not to comment on personal matters I am only hearing one side of in a public forum.. but.. (of course there’s a but..) it does sound like his ex is not mentally well and not only is he dealing with that, but her lawyers too. There seems to be no winner here save for them. I feel bad for Jean, but also his ex-wife who does not sound like she is getting any actual help and the money that fans give to Jean goes to her only to be flushed away by bloodsucking lawyers and fruitless treatments that are not helping. The only people who seem to be making out here are the lawyers and maybe the folks giving those hookum new agey treatments. It’s a sad story of a broken legal system and a broken mental healthcare system.

My heart and prayers really go out for both parties trapped in this horrible quagmire.

I am familiar with losing everything to a wife in divorce. The destruction of a lifetime of work, savings and more, is a difficult nut to swallow. Each of us handles personal tragedy, injustice and the challenges life offers, in our own way. It doesn’t build character in the way people think. If that were the case we’d all seek out trouble. The truth is, sometimes bad things happen to good people and there’s no explanation. We may never see this great talent rise again and it wouldn’t be dependent on his willingness to inspire us but rather a fault in our justice system, that has felled more than one giant across multiple fields.
The concept of marriage on a personal level is beautiful; on a legal level, it’s a completely different arrangement.

Hi I am a inspired artist from your work and hope you the best, I have a sketch that I bought for my own personal admiration. love the work don’t mind paying for it and was the best 180 ever spent!!!!

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