We’re living in an age where increasing aspects of our comics heritage is being protected, with all manner of work coming back into print in fittingly deluxe packages. However, we can all think of great comics that will probably never be reprinted, for various obscure reasons. For example, all manner of great work published by Marvel and DC in the 1970s and ’80s will never see the light of day again due to lapsed licensing deals. Other titles, other creators, simply fall from fashion, to await rediscovery by another generation. Others still end up in complicated rights battles and litigation.
One field of comics-related work that seems to be just lost to the unrelenting march of time and progress is that of the pre-Internet fanzine. Many significant figures in comics history contributed text and art to this near-dead medium, and it’s hard to see any organization having the will to invest in researching, reprinting or digitizing this lost legacy.
Colin Smith is a blogger and the author of Sequart’s “Shameless? The Superhero Comics of Mark Millar,” and as a critic has written about comics for some of the United Kingdom’s top magazines. He has a secondary blog where he has been recently sharing some great art from old U.K. fanzines and convention booklets.
As I said a while back, comics seems to be having an increasing influence on fine art and illustration. One aspect of this is fine art fetishizing the iconography of comics. You may already have seen the work of the photorealist Glennray Tutor, and his still lifes of toys and fireworks often positioned around comic art, like the above shot of some marbles illuminating a romance comic. Tutor is using comic art as a signifier of pure Americana, as American as the vinyl Donald Ducks or bottles of hot sauce he also takes as subject matter.
It’s hard not to see his influence upon the painter Matthew Bone. Bone isn’t a photorealist, and he utilizes the artifacts of nerd culture in a similar way to a very different end. His work literally fetishizes comics and toys: a semi-nude woman writhing on a bed of old Marvel comics; a pair of erotically charged models salivating over a Gundam toy; a nude in a Darth Vader helmet clutching handfuls of Storm Trooper action figures to her breasts; another mock-fellating a Gamorean guard toy. The bio on his website claims “by utilizing the conventions of pop culture, and it’s willingness to embrace the artifice as the sincere, Matthew is able to create a re-envisioned modern mythology.” That’s quite a claim for what a less sympathetic critic might just call an inappropriate fixation upon the pop cultural iconography of his youth mixing with a retrogressive view of female sexuality — NSFW examples below. Also below: Michael Latimer, the street art
swiper Lichtenstein, and Sam Spratt.