Animated: Go For The Gold #3

Posted by on September 11th, 2010 at 5:10 AM

Rob reviews the third volume of the Meathaus collective’s sketchbook compilation, Go For The Gold.

As a reader, I find myself attracted to any number of rendering and narrative styles.  I can appreciate a stick-figure comic told with strong & clear storytelling principles.  I can appreciate near-photorealist art if the same is true.  I am happy to engage abstract comics, comics-as-poetry, or comics whose storytelling is oblique at best.  Even with the most ornate art, I see comics as a kind of handwriting, wherein the symbols have to have an internal logic, even if it’s one I have to decipher myself.  That said, I can certainly appreciate pretty drawing for its own sake, and the latest Meathaus sketchbook Go For The Gold 3 has page after page of beautiful and varied renderings.

Meathaus is the name of a comics collective that began as a group of graduates of the School Of Visual Arts (SVA).  Most of them were illustrators or animators, but they decided to do a comics anthology as a way of keeping in touch with regard to their work and develop their narrative chops.  As the anthology has expanded its roll over the years, it’s grown ever-more ambitious and accomplished.  A number of artists connected to Meathaus have gone on to greater success, like Farel Dalrymple, James Jean, Dash Shaw, Brandon Graham, Tomer Hanuka and Tom Herpich.  The Go For The Gold series expands that roster even further, extending invitations to up-and-comers like Benjamin Marra, Josh Latta & Jesse Moynihan as well as Meathaus veterans to open up their sketchbooks.

The best thing about this sketchbook compilation is that a number of artists included over a dozen pages apiece, giving the reader a chance to really sink their teeth into that artist’s style.  I wasn’t familiar with a great number of the artists featured in this book, but a few trends did emerge from the book.  First, I was struck by how many of the artists were drawing in a naturalistic style–even in a sketchbook.  Second, a number of the cartoonists were interested in fantasy tropes.  Arik Roper’s drawings, for example, seem like a weird fusion of Frank Frazetta’s highly visceral battlefield drawings and Vaughn Bode’s more playful fantasy approach.  A number of Farel Dalrymple’s detailed sketches feature big guys with battle axes.

There are also a number of artists engaging in a more cartoony or ragged style.  Katie Rice’s “cute” style is a revelation in her series of drawings of girls, animals and hillbillies.  These drawings are highly stylized and look almost like animation tearsheets.  Dave Kiersh’s warmer, vibratory line tells more of a story than most of the drawings in this book, and his combination of intricacy of design and simplicity of line packs quite a punch.

The sketchbook is also fertile ground for a number of horrific images.  Mu Pan is one of Meathaus’ greatest artists, though he doesn’t had much of his work published.  His drawings of insect infestation and figures being surgically opened are as awful to look at as they are impossible to turn away from.  Book editor Chris McD’s own drawings evince an interest in body horror, with squiggly-lined figures that ooze and melt.  Of course, the true master of horror is Al Columbia, who imbues a feeling of sheer dread in his 1920s animation-inspired drawings of houses and wrecked rooms.

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One Response to “Animated: Go For The Gold #3”

  1. […] FOR THE GOLD! 3, our sketchbook anthology got the review treatment from Rob Clough over on The Comics Journal’s blog, and he tells it like it is. Don’t […]