Wednesday, December 16, 2020

31 Days Of CCS, #16: Denis St. John

Denis St. John is one of a small number of CCS grads who has specialized in monsters and horror, and he touched on both things in his recent work. Quarantine Dreaming Comix is a cut above standard dream comix in that St. John took intense, lucid dreams and turned them into brief but compelling horror narratives. As always, there's a touch of the absurd in his work, like in the story where he heard howling coming from the walls; the pose of his character, wearing goggles and determinedly using a drill, made me laugh out loud. The next image, of dozens of babies in the walls, screaming their hatred for him, was both unsettling and absurd. 

There's a running theme in his dreams of good things turning horrible, like a sexual encounter leading to rot and decay, or taking care of a kid leading to the child being covered in disgusting, diseased skin. Sometimes he's the victim of a horrifying event and sometimes he's perpetrating it, like when he tricks a beautiful park ranger into going to hell with him. Another strip has him fending off a murderer in Toon Town, which allowed St. John to really show off his range as a draftsman. His use of spotting blacks, silhouettes, dense hatching and cross-hatching, and other techniques gave his work a high level of sophistication without losing that raw dream energy. 

The Mesozine Era is a zine dedicated to one of St. John's favorite things: dinosaurs. A number of other CCS alum are in it as well, including Donna Almendrala, Russ Wood Studlar, and Bryan Stone. Most of St. John's own contributions were detailed dinosaur drawings, though he did include a dream strip wherein his drawing new interpretations of dinosaurs got him yelled at by people trying to play baseball. Joey Weiser's strip comparing dinosaur hunting to getting recognition as a comics artist was amusing. Another St. John strip had an amargosaurus battling an alligator; St. John is especially imaginative in depicting the kind of movements and damage each might do. Studlar's strip about the dangers of a watering hole highlighted his skill in drawing nature. For those who like dinosaurs, this is a fun fanzine to check out. 

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