Rorschach Red Marilyn? Watchmen-Inspired Pop Art at Meltdown
"Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes, Chapters 11 & 12" by Mack Hill
According to curator Marz Richards, part of the inspiration for the Watchmen-inspired exhibit Physical Nostalgia - "a punk rock celebration of one of the most important creative works to appear at the end of the 20th century," currently on display at Meltdown Comics' gallery space - was to have a selection of artists interpret and honor their own visions of the source material in advance of Zack Snyder's film version taking its own berth in the pop lexicon. Which isn't to say that viewing the art in light of last weekend's movie release is a bad thing; indeed, at Saturday night's exhibit opening shindig, snippets of debate about likes and dislikes (some from folks who had just come straight from the cinema) were in earshot everywhere, all spurred forth by the evocative pieces on display.
Curator Richards with his own non-visual contribution, his band Renfield's song "Rorschach"
Chris Stangl stands with his Louis Wain-style ode to Rorschach, "Changing Shape...But Not Mixing, No Gray"
The clear centerpiece of the show, Mack Hill's "Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes, Chapters 1 through 12," is almost impossible to view without feeling moved, if only by the sheer scope of it; on twelve hand-made wooden panels, the artist has laid out every page of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's entire graphic novel by chapter and overlaid key scenes upon each, the Latin coda of "Who watches the Watchmen?" as a grace-note upon each. It's something to behold, and would be worth a trek to Meltdown for any comics aficionado on its own, but there are a number of other terrifically inspired pieces in the show. Osgood Perkins imagines a flawless rendering of the vigilante Rorschach on the cover of the New Yorker in "New Rorker," right down to the important issue date; it's such a great homage it would fit right in with Watchmen's own meta-pop culture universe. Meanwhile, Christopher Stangl - known to Meltdown regulars as the artist behind the endlessly clever posters for mighty monthly standup showcase Comedy Meltdown - pays tribute to artists past and present in renderings of Rorschach in the style of Louis Wain, and Ozymandias as interpreted by William Blake. (He's not finished, either; coming soon, we're told, is Silk Spectre in the fashion of Frida Kahlo. Excellent.)
"New Rorker" by Osgood Perkins
"Persistance of Time" by Steven Daily
One of the most eye-catching pieces in the exhibit, "Moore's Inspiration" is Howard Hallis' lenticular lightbox collage of the original characters as drawn by Gibbons, Ditko, etc., all gathered around a crystal ball inside which the image of Alan Moore sits brooding, the characters sprouting forth in a plume of smoke from his forehead. It's a perfect picture, too, with Moore's gaze cast upward in a fashion just short of an eye-roll that recalls his legendary cantankerousness about appropriations of his work. Still, the creativity in Physical Nostalgia is awfully rampant and feels so genuine and loving, one has to imagine that even the old wizard might dig on some of this mayhem.
Physical Nostalgia continues through March 22 in the Meltdown Gallery, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 851-7223
Excerpt from comic advertorial parody "Presidential Trouble" by Elan Trinidad. So wrong, and yet so dead on.
"Moore's Inspiration" by Howard Hallis