I lived through the Golden age of Rap music, and the tail-end of the Bronze into the Modern Age of comics. But, in all honesty, I don’t know, or even care, a whole lot about certain classifications regarding time periods, other than that I experienced certain things and they were labeled after the fact by some outside entity. Growing up in the 80s and early 90s, there was quite a number of older Hannah Barbera, Warner Bros., and Disney cartoons still being televised regularly. These, of course, are referred to as classics, or rather, from the “Golden Age of animation“. Feature length animated films started being created during this time period and a lot was developed that continues to air to this day. I recently just came across an article on Retro Junk, that refers to a “Silver Age” of cartoons, as well. But the confusing part for me is that the term was being applied to cartoons like Animaniacs, and Tiny Toons, which came through just as I was outgrowing such things. Somehow, they skipped over the 80s and the animated action teams like Thundercats, GI Joe, Transformers, Silver Hawks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, M.A.S.K., Masters of the Universe, C.O.P.S., Visionaries, and all of the rest of the shit that I was so into. During that time, there was a clearly defined and increased sense of good vs evil, with a hefty militaristic undercurrent, and an emphasis placed on large-scale weaponry and explosions, which could only be a reflection of modern paranoia regarding the cold war (this style of cartoon didn’t really occur as much after 1991). Of course, every generation associates most fondly with it’s own nostalgia and, for me, this was the height of toy construction and adrenaline-based childhood recklessness. Were they prepping us to become future soldiers? Perhaps, but when they were spewing images of anthropomorphic beasts, cybernetic organisms, and sorcery at me on the regular, they were also prepping me for a future in psychedelic experimentation and extravagant concepts that stemmed far beyond being a soldier for someone elses cause–unless it involved being in a spacecraft armed with a squad of bionic laser-armed mutants. Everyone processes things a little differently, and how we process it is just as interesting as, if not more than, whatever the original intention was behind the creation of this stuff in the first place. This was considered childhood entertainment after all, so the way that a child absorbs that entertainment should be worth taking into consideration. Read the rest of this entry →
This Friday, November 16th, California artist Justin White will finally be receiving his very first solo exhibit at the world renowned, Los Angeles-based, pop-culture-centric Gallery 1988‘s Melrose location. In the press release, the gallery predicts that it will “no doubt be one of the most surprising debuts of the year,” while making the statement that, “You may not know Justin White’s name yet, but come this Friday, he will make sure you do.“ Some of us won’t be quite as surprised, however, because we’ve actually been watching Justin‘s career unfold for quite a few years, by this point. This may be his first real solo show, but White has showcased his work with G1988 in the past, contributing some standout pieces to previous group exhibits, including one for last year’s Wet Hot American Summer-themed exhibit that was actually purchased by the subject, Paul Rudd, himself. So, while it’s true that Justin White may, in fact, become more of a household name by next week, he hasn’t been completely invisible in the art world and the consistency of the work that he’s crafted up until now hasn’t gone entirely unnoticed. For those of us who first discovered him through his work with Threadless, however, he might be slightly more recognizable under his pseudonym: Jublin. Read the rest of this entry →
If you poke around on Monster Fresh long enough you should be able to discover a couple of things fairly easily. One is that we like art. Another is that we really like the band WEEN. Whether it comes from the guys being incredibly discriminate or just simply being incredibly fortunate, WEEN has -and continues to have- some of the most consistent artwork from any band around. Gig posters have proven themselves to be increasingly collectible over the years and the prints created to support and commemorate shows by the boys from New Hope have found themselves within the top tier of this phenomenon. The true secret seems to be that the band often pulls from a very elite group of regular artists, all of which seem to be legitimate fans of the group. Artists like Justin Hampton, Emek, Jermaine Rogers, and Gregg “Gigart” Gordon are not only loyal contributors to the WEEN poster art dynasty, but they are also some of the most respected poster artists in the game, altogether. Another such artist is TODD SLATER, whose latest work involves a pair of posters for the back to back GENE WEEN New Orleans shows during Jazz Fest, which are guaranteed to become instant classics.
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This morning we discovered the work of a Ottawa, Toronto, Canada-based cartoonist by the name of Nick Cross. Since then, I’ve spent my day watching his various animated shorts and work-in-progress clips, sifting through his print work and reading his blog. While finding employment through larger animation companies, Cross has managed to make the time to create quite a few gems of his own. His personal work has been nominated for numerous awards; often transcending the animated world and infiltrating larger independent film festivals world-wide. For someone such as myself, who has a very limited vocabulary when it comes to this type of work, Cross seems to utilize a very “classic” style of cartoon illustration in the vein of the New Adventures of Mighty Mouse, Ren and Stimpy, and The Powerpuff Girls. The dialogue is minimal, if present at all, and the artist is much more inclined to use silent era dialog cards, if anything, to “illustrate” his points. Beyond the occasional foley sound-effect, the audio is mostly comprised of old stock music, which is used to set the tone and pace. In other words, the actual animating and the detailed movements of the characters are relied on to relay the storyline and to move it forward.
The video that originally ignited our interest in Nick Cross was his latest animated piece, “The Pig Farmer” (posted below). Read the rest of this entry →
2010 marks 12 years since Blur frontman, Damon Albarn and cartoonist, Jamie Hewelitt (Tank Girl) first teamed up to create their world famous “virtual band” Gorillaz. Since then, the animated music project has gone through various changes, lineup and otherwise. Albarn has remained the only consistent musical contributor to the group, with the projects self-titled debut incorporating the talents of Del The Funky Homosapien and producer, Dan the Automator, of which Damon had collaborated previously on the Deltron 3030 album. 2005 brought the sophomore release Demon Days, featuring appearance by such artists as De La Soul, MF Doom, and Dennis Hopper with production work by Danger Mouse. The incorporation of fictional animated characters with the reality of the live musicians who’ve created them and rotating guest musicians has been a lofty concept since day one and has forced the group to make numerous adjustments in a variety of areas since their inception.
Over the years there has been repeated talk about making an animated film, but that was eventually abandoned, then pursued temporarily, and then abandoned all over again. Around the time of DEMON DAYS, the duo took on a larger-than-life venture, attempting to perform “live” shows with 3-dimensional holographic versions of the characters/band members that they’d created. Their abilities to manifest these visual-centric performances were first demonstrated at the MTV Europe Music Awards in Novemeber of 2005, with a follow up performance at the 2006 Grammy‘s, which included an aging Madonna writhing in a leotard. They announced plans to embark on a full-blown holographic world tour in 2007 – 2008 but, due to cost issues and the unreliability of the technology, that entire idea was eventually bagged. In fact, by 2006, Albarn announced his intention to scrap the entire idea of Gorillaz as a functional “band” altogether. With the help of Terry Gilliam (Monty Python, Brasil, 12 Monkees, etc), the idea for a movie had resurfaced again, with Albarn focusing on that film as the primary vessel for the Gorillaz project. “As far as being in a big band and putting pop music out there, it’s finished.” He Stated, “We won’t be doing that any more” (Uncut Magazine, Nov. ’06). Of course, the animated film idea was scrapped yet again and the group did, in fact, release another pop album for the masses this year. Now Gorillaz has even taken to the road to begin promoting the release but, after over a decade-plus of ups and downs, left turns, and the creators themselves losing interest, should we even be paying attention to this generally, overly-ambitious project at all anymore. Based on their recent Oct. 7th appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman and the following 45 min. multi-media performance that they treated the audience to [featured below], the answer to that question is a resounding “probably.” Read the rest of this entry →
Earlier today, I noticed a substantial jump in site views for an old article that I wrote a little over 2 years ago. The post was about the notorious UK street artist, BANKSY and an animatronic pet store that he had set up in NYC and made available to the public during that time period. Not unlike his other work, the project was a remarkable and innovative effort, charged with abrasive tongue-in-cheek social commentary. Sure, it was a fascinating endeavor, but why all of the interest now? Why today? I didn’t know myself, until the latest episode of The Simpsons aired and the introduction had BANKSY‘s name written all over it (literally). Read the rest of this entry →