Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Now I can share the news. The series of illustrations I am in the midst of posting are all from a forthcoming book titled The Desert Places by Amber Sparks and Robert Kloss. It will be released some time later this year by Chicago-based Curbside Splendor. The cover below is one of my illustrations in a beautiful layout and design by Alban Fischer. I'm really pleased with what Alban did here, and thrilled to be a part of this with one of my old favorite authors Robert Kloss and one of my new favorites Amber Sparks. Creating these illustrations as visual responses to this book has been intense, harrowing, and nightmarish but I am so fucking proud of the work it almost hurts. I'll have more information on how to order the book when that is available, and the cover will be polished up when I can get Alban a higher resolution image, but here is a rough cut.


11 inches by 14 inches
ink and marker on watercolor paper
January 20, 2013

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013

THE DESERT PLACES: Above is the Light

I am creating 16 illustrations that will appear in a new book later this year. I don't want to say too much more about it until more information is made official, but it was a searing read and I jumped at the chance to do this. The illustrations will be printed in black & white, but I am creating them with some color since there is a possibility one of them will be used as the cover. Hence, as I post these, you will see both the color and black & white versions.


11 inches by 14 inches
ink on watercolor paper
January 3, 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New Work

In spite of what may have appeared to be radio silence on the art front, I've been working quite diligently on another project. These will be 16 illustrations for a short but brutal, terrifying and spiritual book coming out later this year, co-written by two brilliant author / poets. I'm not sure how much more I can say now, but I'll start posting some of the scans soon. The book has 16 short chapters, so I am creating an illustration as a visual response to each one. They will be printed in black and white, but I hope that one of my pieces may be used for the cover so I am including some red and gray in each piece. When reproduced in black and white, the red will look fine as gray. Also, in spite of the fact that the book will probably be a small paperback, I am working large. These are all 11" by 14", ink on watercolor paper, and ready to frame. Here is a quick snapshot of the first nine illustrations. What do you think so far?

"Dive Deeper" and KCET

KCET in Los Angeles recently posted an article on Professor George Cotkin's brilliant new book Dive Deeper: Journeys With Moby-Dick.

Writer Sarah Linn was kind enough to interview me for the article, and they used some of my Moby-Dick illustrations as well which is always an honor. But most important is Cotkin's book which, through its own 135 chapters, explores the many many ways in which Moby-Dick has shaped our own culture, with particular focus on the arts. It's really an unusual and fascinating approach to this piece of the Canon, and a deeply enjoyable read. So check out Linn's piece, and if you are an admirer of the White Whale, look into getting a copy of Cotkin's book which is out now.

PictureBox Inc. announces their Ten Cent Manga line

This is very exciting news! Kind of breaking out all over the internet at once, publisher PictureBox Inc. has announced that 2013 will see the launch of a new line of comic releases they are calling Ten Cent Manga. Ryan Holmberg will be handling the editing, translating, and introductions for each. Via The Comics Reporter, Ten Cent Manga will consist of "largely forgotten one-offs and ignored work from various manga superstars" and will focus on "the way that mid-20th Century manga was less 'an independent world of its own' than in part reflective of a significant influx of American comics and cartoons from the 1920s through the 1970s."

Additionally, PictureBox has announced the first two titles. May 2013 will bring us The Last of the Mohicans by the brilliant Shigeru Sugiura...

While October will see the little-known The Mysterious Underground Men by Osamu Tezuka. I'm really looking forward to these, and I love the design of the covers, which I hope that PictureBox will be keeping consistent across the line.

See, like comics, I have a real love / hate relationship with manga. I think there is some really brilliant, eccentric and important work out being done in the medium, but much of what we see translated and published here in the U.S. baffles and depresses me. For every Tekkonkinkreet or NonNonBa we are lucky enough to get, we are saddled with a dozen other titles like Bleach or Hot Gimmick. I saw the popularity of Death Note and I tried to read it but as I finished each volume I found the plot growing more repetitive, tedious, and episodic while also paradoxically becoming more complex and eventually completely baffling. And that exact description is the problem I have with so much manga, especially the series that run to 20 or 30 volumes or more. I understand that these stories are serial in nature and are designed to be long-running entertainment in the manner of television shows with episodes and multiple seasons, but as I reader I find myself craving some kind of eventual payoff or conclusion. Even if that payoff only sets up a new status quo. I don't seem to find that in manga at all, only an endless kind of tension and misdirection that leads nowhere. And I don't mean anything personal by this, RF (a friend who occasionally visits this blog and I know has enjoyed Death Note), I mentioned that series because really it's the only one I have been able to have an intelligent discussion about that didn't eventually devolve into name-calling and insults.

So, yeah, enough soapboxing. Ten Cent Manga from PictureBox in 2013. Be excited.

"Like" us! Really "like" us!

My favorite book of 2012 was Robert Kloss' The Alligators of Abraham. Yes, I designed and drew the entire cover as well as three interior illustrations for the book, but honestly I wanted to do that after reading an initial manuscript and pretty much volunteered for the job. It's been many many years since I read a piece of contemporary fiction that made such a bloody, bruising impact on my imagination and I highly recommend the book to all of you. Also, the book now has a Facebook page you can "like" which somehow I just discovered this morning. I like this because Robert (or whoever is administering the page) frequently posts links to reviews of the book which are intriguing for me to read. So first, read the book and then "like" the page. Also, follow Robert Kloss. A goddamned fine writer indeed.

Also, as an egotistical aside, I too have a Facebook page and you can "like" me there. I post all kinds of stuff, mostly art but sometimes questions, and you can do all kinds of things there that lame blogs like this don't allow. So check me out while you're there.

AHAB the Movie, official site

Director Brian Holton's upcoming film AHAB the Movie now has an official web site so check it out. Many more photos, a trailer, cast and crew images and best of all an "About the Film" section shedding some light on the specifics. My excitement about this film continues to grow.

Why, America? WHY?

A Japanese-language comic and design blog which I think is called YoiComic has a wonderful post highlighting the 100 best manga cover designs of 2012. There are some rather pedestrian covers, yes, but for the most part the work on display is just gorgeous. One of my many favorites was this, a cover for a manga I believe is called Earthling or maybe The Thinker. The cover was designed by Tatsuro Kiuchi who I think may have done the art as well. It's hard to tell, even with Google translate. But the art speaks for itself. Look at this!

And here in America, we get a steady diet of this garbage instead. And comics fans still wonder why they are so often pegged as socially maladjusted idiot fanboys with unhealthy adolescent power fantasies and all the aesthetic subtlety of sweating, cheese-eating, mouth-breathing 15 year old boys smelling of sweat socks and Axe body spray. BACKED INTO A CORNER! THIRSTY FOR BLOOD! FURIOUS WITH ANYTHING BUT THE DULLEST AND MOST BANAL DESIGN AND ART!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Moving Sale!

I'm selling a bunch of new art in my Etsy shop. Why? Well...

Finally, my wife and I are moving! On or near March 2, we will be moving from the single room we occupy now into a much more spacious apartment that is much closer to where we work. This means no more 3 hour daily commute, no more 15 to 17 hours a week in the car, no more driving almost a thousand miles weekly, and no more cramming a drawing studio into a closet or a tiny corner of the room we sleep in, use the computer in, watch TV in, and live in. I am very excited.

But, since we did live in only one room, we are in need of a number of relatively standard things like a couch, a table to eat on, a few chairs, dishes, glasses, and so on. I'm not complaining at all. Our life has been the result of our choices, and we have no regrets. If anything, we've actually been very lucky and we have always found ways to be happy. So please don't take this as some kind of request for pity.

Still, there is much to be done and to ease the blow, I've decided to sell some of the art that I had been keeping for myself, as well as some newer pieces that I hadn't had a chance to list yet. All these pieces below are available in my shop...

Also, now that I am done with Heart of Darkness I am available for commissions. Email me at mattkish87 at gmail and let me know if there is something you're interested in, I'd be happy to give it a try.

Distance Mover by Patrick Kyle

This came in the mail yesterday, and I couldn't be more thrilled!

That's Distance Mover number 7, by artist Patrick Kyle. It's really one of the greatest comics ever made, and may be the only print comic I care about at all right now. It's that incredible. Number 7 is the first issue in my 6 issue subscription.

There are so many things I love about Distance Mover, and this spread is a perfect example...

Go ahead, look closely at that bottom left corner...

See that? Mr. Earth, one of the main characters in Distance Mover is joined by Mr. Sky, Mr. Sea and Mr. Magma. Patrick is slowly building up this complex, layered, lavishly detailed cosmology bit by bit. Each issue brings new surprises and gradually ups the ante, but this one really shook things up. The entire universe of Distance Mover expanded dramatically for me, and that is something I really look for. It's like in that PlayStation game Castlevania: Symphony of the Night where you play through the whole castle and then, when you think you're at the end and you've finished it all, the sky opens up and this whole inverted castle, a mirror image of the world you've just fought your way through, appears above you and you realize you're only halfway done. That's what this issue was like. I can't wait to see what Patrick has in store.

You can read the first three, sadly out of print issues of Distance Mover online here. You can get issues 4 through 7 by following this link and, best of all, you can subscribe to issues 7 through 12 at this link here. Good good stuff.

Amazing Moby-Dick tattoo

When Daryl L.L. Houston got my illustration for page 131 tattooed on his back I was blown away. That is the highest compliment I have ever received. A huge hone. Well, I have been blown away again because Ryan S. in Wisconsin is in the process of getting an entire sleeve tattooed on, all based on Moby-Dick illustrations of mine. This kind of thing just thrills me to no end. I love tattoos and even though I only have one very small one (a wedding tattoo on my inner right wrist) my wife has LOTS, and plans for more, and I just think they are incredible. Art means so much to me, so to add art to your skin takes it to a different level. And when I see someone adding MY art to their skin, well, it's hard to describe just how incredible that feels. And this is, I believe, the third time it's happened to me! First Daryl, then my wife, no Ryan. Really, just an amazing compliment and a humbling honor.

Ryan was kind enough to send along a few photos of the work. So far, it's just been outlined on his arm and he expects the entire thing to take several sessions and 4 to 5 months total. The work is being done by artist Julio Avila of Solid State Tattoo in Milwaukee. What amazes me about these photos is that, after sitting through many many tattoo sessions with my wife, I know how much modification has to go into an image before it is fit for inking on a body. And yet, in spite of that, I can clearly see my art in every one of these. Julio has done an astounding job of preserving my images, and my intent, and still adapting them to the form of Ryan's body and the properties of the tattoo needle and ink. I am in awe of Julio here, and if I ever meet him I'm going to thank him personally for this. It probably means as much to me as it does to Ryan.

Okay, take a look at these photos Ryan sent, and see my art coming to life under Julio's needle...

Ryan has promised to keep sending me photo updates as the piece progresses. I look forward to that very much. And if you're near Milwaukee, Ryan gives Solid State his highest possible recommendation. After seeing work like this, I agree.

Mark Beyer: With / Without Text

So, last Thursday me, my wife, and good friend Gigantic Joe Kuth attended the Mark Beyer Retrospective With / Without Text at the Urban Arts Space in downtown Columbus, Ohio. I had been looking forward to this for months, and it was every bit as amazing as I had hoped, and more so. Here are some photos from the show, including my wife's awesome reactions to some of the art...

Driving in, the giant Dispatch sign. Is it really true?

The title "With / Without Text" referred to the way in which the exhibit was divided into two sections. The first, "With Text," contained original comic art, posters, flyers and album covers, all of which contained text of some kind or another. The "Without Text" portion showed Beyer's paintings, silkscreens, and objects upon which he had pointed. It was an interesting way to approach his work.

Starting in "With Text"...

A close-up of that piece. Such beautiful, disturbing linework. I never realized until I saw all of this work together how profound an influence Beyer has been on me.

Some of Beyer's original comic art. Always fascinating to see this stuff up close.

A small personal drawing on the bottom of one of the posters...

Peter Brotzmann poster!

I love seeing the original linework and the white-out. The whole process is fascinating and so different from how I work.

My wife was the first to remark on Beyer's strange proclivity toward seemingly dispassionate, penetrative violence and gore.

A Snakefinger LP cover.

My wife, pondering a row of Beyer's LP art.

More LP art.

And the first reaction! See, there are so very many things I love about my wife. I won't list them all because this blog post would never end, but this picture below is one of them. She is so very open, genuine, and demonstrative. She wears her heart on her sleeve and her thoughts are as transparent as glass. She is very openminded and, despite these faces she made, she loved the exhibit as much as I did. But she shows and shares everything, and it is like watching a wonderful, beautiful, hilarious, silly and sometimes histrionic display of passion, fury, joy and disgust. There will be more of this. Trust me.

I've decided that 2013 will be the Year of Noise for us. Lots of noisy noise rock, noise music, noisy jazz (Brotzmann!) and more. So, almost as if it was meant to be, is an LP cover we were both drawn to. See?

And, when I remarked (again) about the Year of Noise, she turned to me and...

In one room, there was a continuous loop of Beyer's Thomas and Nardo from MTV's much beloved (by me, anyway) Liquid Television running.

Now we're into the "Without Text" portion. Some really wonderfully terrifying, bizarre and visceral stuff here. My wife was especially fond of this piece.

As you can no doubt see.

More art.

I own a copy of the silkscreen print on the far left. Still need to get it framed.

Perhaps our favorite piece in the show. Something about this one was just magnetic to my wife and I. We think it was a combination of color, pattern, texture and theme. Powerful.

Now, I love these. My wife explaining her reactions to and thoughts about Beyer's art.

Finally, rounding out the exhibit was an intriguing collection of Beyer's earliest zines, comics and book covers. It was, understandably, in a plexiglas case so I wasn't able to flip through these but just seeing them was a thrill.

Many thanks to Tom Wagner who was the driving force that made this show a reality. Nearly all of the pieces were actually from his private collection, which is astonishing. If you are anywhere near Columbus, find your way to the Urban Arts Space and take a look. This may be a once in a lifetime chance to see a huge collection of Beyer's original pieces all in one place.