Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Jason Atomic

Today's Q&A features Stripped curator/contributor Jason Atomic.

pic by Billa

What kind of art do you usually do?

I suppose I'm best know these days for my portraiture & live sketch performances, although recently I've been doing more and more work examining re-occurring obsessions with comics, sci-fi and Satanic imagery that has fascinated me since childhood.
I also do t-shirt designs for Tokyo fashion house Milkboy.

For Stripped I made a ltd edition book of my comic collages & painted on the vintage cereal packets that I used to store my comic collection in (before selling it)

When did you first start reading comics?

My first comics were Gold Key Tarzan comics and Bat-Man annuals in the early 70s. 
My first collage, made in 1971 at age 4, is constructed from Gold Key Tarzan comics.

The first comic to truly blow my mind was the Burne Hogarth Tarzan graphic novel of 1973. 

Soon after that I discovered Kirby through the Alan Class reprints of his Atlas monster work & Marvel UK reprints. Kirby blew my mind, his work still does. Hail to the king!

Do you consider yourself a fan of 'pop art'?

As a child I hated Lichenstein with a passion, I really felt he missed the point and disrespected the originators of his source material, I've mellowed a bit to him now but still not entirely convinced.
The graphic appeal of pop art in undeniable, but to me the supermarket and the comic shop are museums of pop art, do we really need some art school graduate to take things of their natural environment into a white wall space in order to appreciate their power and beauty? 

What is the best bit of a comic book for you?

Having just cut-up a stack of old comics, it's the cover graphics, the printing process and the adverts that really appeal to me now.
If we are talking specifics it's the double page splashes in 70s Kirby comics.

Have you ever dressed up as a comic character?

I recently dressed as a grown-up Atomu when we went to see the Tezuka ballet at Sadlers Wells. We sat in the front row & kept catching the cast checking us out.

pic by Manko

As a child I was always bugging my mum to make me comic related garments, a Spider-man mask & shirt, Michael Morbius vampire 'wings' etc... 
I even used to patrol the streets of East Grinstead as the East Grinstead Avenger in black wellies, green boiler suit, green hood and cape. I never  avenged anyone but I did spend a lot of time playing on rooftops, in building sites and abandoned houses doing dynamic, leaps, climbs and poses.

Worse than dressing as them though, I've seen comic characters dress up as me! 
The Shinigami in Death Note actually wears my FFD performance costume, sheer black top with fur shoulder detailing, raggedy kilt with hanging pocket/pouch, silver rings, blue/black wig, extended black lipline etc... I don't think this is a coincidence as my look was well documented in Japanese style mags such as STREET & Kera & even on TV throughout the 90s & noughties. 

Have you ever made a comicbook?

I used to make self published photocopied comix back in the early 90s which achieved a minor degree of notoriety via fanzines like ZUM!.
Technotribe/Superculture Classics (with Fin Savant) Wongo Batonga & Wongo Boy.
Wongo Batonga was supposed to be the kind of comic a collector might find while dreaming, all the imagery and situations of my favourite comics smooshed together in a surreal psychosexual mish-mash with a character who looks like a mutant Batman & his were-cat girlfriend fighting giant monsters, dinosaurs and space gods from the jungles of Borneo to Highgate Cemetary.
Wongo Boy featured SD manga versions of the same characters in an explosion of ukiyo-e inspired erotica.

Do you have any other comic related memories you'd like to share?

Since I started concentrating on painting and drawing from life I have been lucky have some of my favourite comic creators pose for me. 
Go Nagai allowed me to sketch him during a meeting at Dynamic productions. That was a real thrill because they were discussing an issue of "Devilmanlady" where our diabolical heroine visits Hell with Dante and discovers Devilman trapped there. After that the character had something of a rennaissance.
This became the first of my 'favourite artists' series of paintings.

More recently I was delighted to break the 4th wall and have some of my work published in the background of one of my favourite comics, David Hine & Shaky Kane's delightfully meta-fictional, "The Bulletproof Coffin" read the full story here.

Atomic has 3 blogs currently on the go:

Jason Atomic general blog about art & jobs

Atomic Sketchbook new blog looking back at his sketchbooks dating back to 1985

Satanic Mojo a tongue in cheek look at the influence of satanism on pop culture & future exhibition theme
(Satanic Mojo is an anagram of Jason Atomic!)

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