INTELLIGENT SENTIENT?

IS1
Luke Ramsey’s INTELLIGENT SENTIENT? defies description. Its back-cover copy takes a pretty impressive swing, though: “INTELLIGENT SENTIENT? feels like an artifact from another time — a lost feature in Omni magazine or the album booklet for a late 1970s Hawkwind record or, perhaps, a print version of Koyaanisqaatsi.” In fact it doesn’t really quite feel like any of those things, but the comparisons in sum point you in the right direction: they evoke the pure found-object otherworldliness and unsettling artifactual shimmer of this weird and startling thing. It’s an item that floats in its own self-sustaining cloud of unknowing – a mislaid, untraceable document of a long-forgotten future.

Among the things it’s documenting are: motherboards and root systems; almond-eyed aliens; snakes made of snakes; mushroom clouds trees with trunks of tangled red veins; the exploitation, subversion and destruction of a bountiful, frightening planet; insectoid mandalas, third eyes, astral projections; puppets, puppetmasters, secret societies; shadows and distorted reflections; the ways the writhing, chaotic mass of the natural world fuses to the sleekly ominous silent hum of the digital one.

IS9
In this thematically and stylistically linked series of wordless illustrations, Ramsey’s art bends and folds in on itself, redoubling and kaleidoscoping into endless patterns, fractals, double helixes and splintered nuclei, building a mythos of interconnection and unearthly mystery. There’s no rendering in these hyperdetailed kenophobic drawings – just an endless, roiling ocean of squiggles and geometric shapes: anarchic, filigreed abstraction wriggling within the strictures of gorgeously designed clean-line compositions. His stretched-out landscape-format images bubble and twist, exploring the endlessly replicating, mirrored architectures of both our universe and culture. As above, so below.

The same esoteric heiroglyphs – pyramids, obelisks, eyes, coils, snakes – keep recurring through the book, appearing both as natural formations and branded onto labels, displayed on the sides of vehicles, inscribed into flesh. INTELLIGENT SENTIENT? explores the secret lives of images — how the transcendent visual archetypes of myth and nature spawn and split in our viral and mindless cultural exchange, which uses up then reiterates used up structures and compositions and icons. In Ramsey’s vision, a supermarket check-out line is as hauntingly empty and alienating as the star-strewn sky. They both make you feel small and alone, and they are both in a certain sense masks for the unknowable essence of reality.

IS2
As in the stunningly detailed but unassuming, even modest pink-on-pink cover, Ramsey uses a combination of high- and low-contrast color choices to introduce a shrouded dimensionality to his strange compositions. He buries painstaking detail in barely-differentiated shades of black on dark brown, or red ink on a red background. It shows an admirable willingness to camouflage his own beautiful and laborious work, and its coy subtlety is magnetic — it lures you deeper and deeper into this book’s quiet, disconcerting simulated reality. It whispers that you should look closer. There’s always more to see – always more paths to follow and lines to unravel.
IS3
INTELLIGENT SENTIENT? is animated by a precise and compelling aesthetics that reinvents the universe with a kind of paranoid wonder, builds it up and breaks it down. Its inscrutable message has a cryptic urgency: the world is not the world. There is unspeakable beauty and cunning intelligence hiding behind every curtain. Pull them back at your own risk.

IS6
I’m almost to the end of this review, and I still haven’t answered the most pressing question posed by INTELLIGENT SENTIENT?: should you read it while high on mushrooms?

I haven’t taken mushrooms in a very long time, so I can’t speak from experience. I feel I should be cautious here and advise against it. The horror vacui in here is very ominous and itchy, and maybe too compelling for a psilocybin-vulnerable mind to handle. I don’t want to be responsible for anyone’s psychic break.

But there’s a deep longing in Ramsey’s artwork for some kind of ineffable communion that lies beyond the limits of language and ego. This book wants to be ripped free from its confining context. It’s a world in and of itself, and it aspires to exist on its own terms – not as a collection of illustrations but as a teeming, unfathomable reality. It wants you to fall inside. INTELLIGENT SENTIENT? represents a wild, reckless thrust past the petty fears and estrangements and oppressions of mudane life into a frightening, beautiful, unmapped terrain – a bold attempt to establish contact with the thing behind the thing. It deserves an unguarded mind to meet it on its journey. So come to this book ready to believe. Eager to be abducted. Let Luke Ramsey and his collaborators pry open your mind. See what spills out.

IS4
So in other words, yeah. Read this book on mushrooms.

Then report back here and together we can try to signal the mothership.

IS8

LITTLE NEMO meets CAROUSEL!

 nemo carousel

Please join us at the Society of Illustrators on Saturday, March 14th at 2pm for

                                                         LITTLE NEMO meets CAROUSEL

A performance and tribute to cartoonist Winsor McCay

Carousel, the comics reading & performance series, presents a tribute to Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo. The show features cartoonists from the Locust Moon Press anthology LITTLE NEMO: DREAM ANOTHER DREAM, plus a special presentation by animation historian and Oscar-winning filmmaker John Canemaker.

Besides being one of the greatest cartoonists of all time, Winsor McCay was also a popular and innovative vaudeville performer, so this show is a perfect way to honor his amazing legacy.

With readings, animations, and performances by: John CanemakerMaëlle DoliveuxMaria HoeyAdriano MoraesDave ProchAndrea TsurumiRonald Wimberlyand special guests. Plus a slide show drawn byDean Haspiel (not appearing in person).  Hosted by R. Sikoryak.

The Society of Illustrators, 128 East 63rd Street (btwn Park & Lexington Avenues), New York City.

Admission: $15 Non-members, $10 members, $7 seniors/students.

Also on display: an exhibit with original art from the Locust Moon Press anthology LITTLE NEMO: DREAM ANOTHER DREAM. The exhibition runs through March 28, 2015.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Animation historian and Oscar-winning filmmaker John Canemaker presents animation’s first female personality: the spunky dinosaur Gertie, who celebrated her 100th birthday last year.  Winsor McCay’s breakthrough film is a masterpiece of early character animation, a type of individualization in animation whose legacy is the pantheon of Walt Disney.  Canemaker is the author of twelve acclaimed books on animation history, including the only biography of Winsor McCay. He is a tenured professor and head of the animation program at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and his short The Moon and the Son won a 2005 Academy Award as Best Animated Short. JohnCanemaker.com

Maëlle Doliveux is a French and Swiss illustrator, cartoonist and animator who’s clients include Newsweek, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Motorola. She graduated from the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program at the School of Visual Arts in 2013, has received recognition from the Society of Illustrators, the Art Director’s Club and American Illustration as well as having been a jury member for the Society of Illustrators in 2015.www.maelledoliveux.com

Emmy award winner and Eisner Award nominee Dean Haspiel created BILLY DOGMA, illustrated for HBO’s “Bored To Death,” was a Master Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, is a Yaddo fellow, a playwright, and the co-founder of Hang Dai Editions. Dino has written, drawn, and collaborated on many superhero and semi-autobiographical comix and graphic novels. http://www.deanhaspiel.com

Maria Hoey is 1/2 of Coin-Op. A studio started with her brother Peter in 1998. Together they create illustrations, animations, and comic stories. The best possible job on the planet.  Coin-Op studio is at www.peterhoey.com.

Adriano Moraes is a Brazillian born cartoonist working as freelancer in NY on almost all mediums from theater to film, illustration, animation, puppetry, burlesque shows, graphic design and advertising. He sucks at singing and dancing but that never stopped him. facebook.com/theadriano

Dave Proch is a Philadelphia based cartoonist and the creator of the ongoing serial book, “Mango Lizard”. He can be reached at www.daveproch.com.

Andrea Tsurumi is an illustrator and cartoonist who likes history, absurdity, dogs and monsters (in no particular order). Comics of hers have appeared in The Graphic Canon of Children’s Literature, Flashed: Sudden Stories in Prose and Comics, The Nib and Quarter Moon. Her work has been described as “strange and emotive.” She likes funny stories, lives in New York City, and you can see her work at www.andreatsurumi.com

Ronald Wimberly is an artist who works primarily in design and narrative. He is an accomplished illustrator and cartoonist, having designed several graphic novels as well as shorter works for DC/Vertigo, Nike, Marvel, Hill and Wang, and Dark Horse. His last work was the critically acclaimed Prince of Cats for DC/Vertigo. http://ronwimberly.com/

R. Sikoryak is the cartoonist behind Masterpiece Comics (Drawn & Quarterly).  He’s also recently drawn for The New York Times Book Review, The Graphic Canon of Children’s Literature, SpongeBob Comics, Hellboy, and more.www.rsikoryak.com

For more info: societyillustrators.org

good this week

east of west #18 : as good as it gets in monthly comics right now.

EastofWest_18-1

ant-man #3 : nick spencer hits all the right notes in this family-oriented, funny superhero romp. fans of the taskmaster, delight.

portrait_incredible

star wars #3 : jason aaron and john cassaday are making star wars fans everywhere very, very happy.

StarWars3CassadaySketchVC

the surface #1 : to quote from ales kot’s own words here, i have no idea whether this book is going to actually work, but the spirit that he and artist langdon foss brought to this opening issue make it worth it to find out.

TheSurface01-CovA

howard the duck #1 : SEX CRIMINALS artist chip zdarsky turns out to be the perfect guy to bring the irascible duck into the 21st century. teamed with joe quinones on art, this is a book that any fan of the recent HAWKEYE, SHE-HULK, or SILVER SURFER series needs to check out.

portrait_uncanny

silver surfer #10 : wonderful wrap-up to this all-new galactus trilogy from michael&aura allred and dan slott.

SURFER-10-coverrev-988f8

mouse guard : legends of the guard vol 3 #1 : devid petersen’s anthology featuring various creators playing in his mouse guard world is always a delight, and with stories from creators like mark buckingham and skottie young, this new series is off to a fine start.

unnamed11

ragnarok #4 : walt simonson’s grim, energetic return to the ground he built his own legend on is heating up.

rag

tuki save the humans #3 : the same can be said for jeff smith’s new series, as this 3rd issue is the strongest one yet.

tuki-tease

spider-gwen #2 : spider-ham! the vulture! that costume! fun stuff.

gwen

–chris

good this week

the fade out volume #1 : old time hollywood in the hands of CRIMINAL masterminds ed brubaker and sean phillips. this is about as good as noir gets, folks.

thefadeout_01_

sex criminals volume #2 : what would you do if you could stop time when you orgasm? give this a read, it’ll help you figure it out.

Sex-Criminals-top

abigail and the snow man #3 : is anyone better at this kind of innocently sophisticated cartooning as roger langridge? parents and the young at heart, start here and go to SNARKED and the wonderful MUPPET books roger did.

absm

spider-gwen #1 : this book brings a lot of heat on the heels of the over-the-top fun SPIDER-VERSE storyline. there was a lot of talk about the batgirl costume redo from a few months back, and that was cool, but gwen’s webbed hoodie is one of the best new character designs i can remember in a long time.

Spider-Gwen-1-Cover-Robbi-Rodriguez-720x1112

ody-c #3 : whoah. this sci-fi gender-bent retelling of THE ODYSSEY is pure comics.

ody-c-cover3-dressed

the manara library volume 6 : the final volume in dark horse’s fantastic collection of italian master milo manara’s singular work takes off on its own sci-fi flight of fancy. yes, it’s sexy.

Manara-Vol-6-Cover

curb stomp #1 : we’ve got the makings of the baddest girl gang since the lizzie’s here…

Curb_Stomp_001_coverA-659x1000

django/zorro #4 : matt wagner just flat out knows how to handle these characters, and an improbable pairing becomes a cracking good yarn in his hands.

DjangoZorro04CovALee

–chris

MAPS FOR EARTHMATES Opening Reception

us and we art - teach me to swim map west africaLocal West Philly artist Joey Hartmann-Dow (working under the name Us & We Art) brings her signature map creatures to Locust Moon for a solo show Maps for Earthmates, opening February 26.

As seen at Go West! Craft Fests and occasional First Fridays in Old City, the artist paints and draws directly on maps, making creatures out of the borders of land and water. In her artist’s statement she asks: “Can we see that land as a moving, breathing creature, worthy of love and care? How would we treat the earth differently?”

The work invites viewers to look at the features of our planet in a new light—as living things with hearts and souls.

The opening reception for Maps for Earthmates is 7pm to 10pm on Thursday, February 26 at Locust Moon Gallery. The work will be up through March 28, and digital art prints will be available for sale throughout the show.

Locust Moon Comics is a retail store, art gallery, and publishing company based in West Philadelphia. The store and gallery are open Monday through Friday, from 12pm to 8pm, Saturday 11am to 9pm, and Sunday 11am to 7pm, and is located at 34 S. 40th St, Philadelphia.

us and we art - outsideheart

good this week

silver surfer #9 : barreling along in what’s going to be one of the touchstone SS runs, this galactus-ized issue sets up a thrilling 3rd act to this book’s best arc yet. the inimitable art work of michael&laura allred is worth the ticket alone. and this cover has to be an early candidate for cover of the year…

Silver_Surfer_Vol_7_9_Textless

the multiversity mastermen #1 : grant morrison continues to march across the entirety of dc’s history like adolph hitler thru 1939. wait a minute…that’s hitler on the toilet. thanks, grant.

multiv-mastermen-1-97b3a

she-hulk #12 : so, so sad to see this book go away. if you haven’t, do yourself a favor and check out what charles soule, javier pulido, and co. put together here.

background

bitch planet #3 : a world where women can wind up in an off-planet prison for…wanton obesity? but don’t worry, these ladies are about to fight back. another perfectly paced, involving episode of this early candidate for series of the year.

BitchPlanet_03_300_457

silk #1 : cindy moon was bitten by the same spider that bit peter parker. what else do you need to know?

Silk-1-review-spoilers-1.1

eight #1 : the talented rafael albuquerque throws his hat into the sci-fi ring, with some good-looking early results.

EI8HT-1-FC-FNL-4x6-5d608

–chris

More News From Nowhere

mailing nemo

February is a time of death. Not a time of dying — it’s the quiet beyond the grave, a time when long-past deaths persist, through all acceptance and despair. It’s the very bottom of the year, the moment when even the blackest magics have been exhausted. The month the earth stands still. February is what it feels like to be alone.

So come where the hearth and the hearts are hot. Eat with us. Drink with us. Make merry with us. For we have already died, and tomorrow we will be reborn.

On WEDNESDAY 3/18 we will be at the Society of Illustrators for the opening reception of the LITTLE NEMO: DREAM ANOTHER DREAM gallery exhibition.

mailing societyBy THURSDAY 3/19 we will be back, probably a little worse for the wear and still dressed in a rumpled rendition of our finest regalia, huddled together Drinking & Drawing.

The following week on THURSDAY 3/26 we will be hosting MAPS FOR EARTHMATES, a gallery show by Us & We Art (aka Joey Hartmann-Dow), who turns old maps into glorious creatures. Her work is original, funny and fascinating.

mailing joey
In the meantime, we’re hard at work on the second volume of ONCE UPON A TIME MACHINE (this time it’s sci-fi takes on Greek mythology), a book whose completion beckons ever closer. Seeing the work rolling in by Toby Cypress, Charles Fetherolf and Andrea Tsurumi reminds us that somewhere, there is an eternal springtime waiting to be made new.

Some pencils from my collaboration with surly-but-brilliant Monsieur Fetherolf:

mailing charlie
So come. Sit and read with us. We have thousands of books, and they are full of fire. Warm your hands and your godforsaken soul.

-Josh O’Neill