Saturday, October 3, 2015

Thirty Days of Short Reviews #3: Dirty Hands

David Alvarado's book Dirty Hands is billed as his "collected works". It's really a loose collection of sketchbook drawings, doodles and other ephemera. Alvarado is in the branch of comics that one might call Bigfoot Grotesque, which combines elements from bigfoot cartoonists of the 1920s and 1930s along with more contemporary drawings that are oozing, pulsing, dripping or otherwise unsettling. There's also a bit of influence from underground artists like Skip Williamson, and this aesthetic is now quite popular in the form of Adventure Time and other Cartoon Network shows. Artists like Jon Vermilyea, Michael DeForge (especially earlier in his career), Andrew Smith, Rusty Jordan and Jesse Jacobs provide some examples of this. In many ways, Marc Bell is another important touchstone for this explosively whimsical style of art.

This book is interesting to look at; the weird and varied range of illustrations, art styles and graphic experiments are fascinating. The choice of colors and paper stock made every page stand out, and this is a credit to the publisher, RJ Casey's Yeti Press. The drawings themselves are whimsical, occasionally disturbing and frequently funny. Anthropomorphic bananas on one page segue into highly-detailed monsters, while a set of items deconstructing Charlie Brown is next to a trippy, solid-red cat. I found myself wishing for some sequential work in this volume precisely because his illustrations are so fluid and active on the page. They look as though they're going to jump off the page at times.

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