Thursday, March 12, 2015

Randomly Jackson-ed Off

Random Thoughts

Recipe for happiness: have a root beer float at least once a week.

When your boss (who enjoys your artwork) accuses you of being a tease because you happened to bring the new, largely empty, sketchbook with you instead of the one containing pencils for upcoming comics, the appropriate response probably is not, "I'm not a tease, we both know I put out." 

Jackson-ed Off

For a long time now I've followed an artist by the name of Phillip M. Jackson, who goes by the nom de guerre of "Jolly Jack." I should start this by saying I love his work. He bridges between realistic and cartoonish, and his long running strip, Sequential Art, is consistently in the top five web strips I recommend that people read. He was one of the reasons that I signed up for a membership on Deviant Art, and one of the reasons I started posting anything over there. 

Recently he posted something that made me realize some things about art and artists. I'm not going to put the image in here, because it is not for the squeamish. If you would like to see it after reading what I have to say, I'll post the link at the end. 

One of his recent posts is a lengthy, vertically oriented comic strip featuring his avatar, a cartoon hamster, showing off the book-like cover for his iPad to Penny from Inspector Gadget. Those of us who watched the cartoon will remember lusting after her all-powerful computer book she used to actually get things done while Inspector Gadget was off impersonating the love child of all Three Stooges and Q from the James Bond movies. As the strip progresses the hamster gets more and more outraged at her apparent ambivalence to the awesomeness of his iPad book until he eventually hits her with it, knocking her down and out of frame.

Then he hits her again.
And again.
The iPad case becomes bloodier and bloodier.
He stops, considering what he's done, then wanders out of frame.
Then, and this is where it takes an extremely disquieting turn, he comes back into frame holding a knife.
He's seen carving on something, presumably Penny's corpse. Blood splatters and his expression is maniacally determined.
Over the next two panels he stands up into frame wearing a Penny-face-flesh-mask

Keep in mind, he's making light of brutally killing and mutilating a girl who's supposed to be ten years old. A fictional cartoon character, sure, but he also placed himself in that situation through the use of his avatar, which personalizes things to a degree. 

An understandably outraged someone left this comment in his feed: "This is NOT ok. I like your art. I try to ignore your smug sexism. But if you're gonna draw pictures of that thing killing children and ripping their faces off, you have officially crossed the line. I'm done following you. I'm blocking you, and I'm reporting this image. Fuck you. I hope you die like this." 

While this loses credibility by wishing such a gruesome fate on the artist, he does make a point. There is funny, then there's funny, but wrong; and finally there's just plain wrong. For me, this strip falls into that latter camp. It's definitely not my cup of tea. 

When I thought about it a little more it raised the question, do you judge an artist solely on the merits of a single piece of work? If this was the only thing you'd ever seen from Jolly Jack, you might not ever come back. No one would blame you, this is way over-the-top. Admittedly he does a lot of comics that can only be called pornography, but it's not all he does, and it's not the most significant work he does.  

Also, as an artist who draws comic strips there are comics I've done, and some I will do at some point, that I would not want certain people to see. Sometimes you get an idea for something that crosses the line, but it won't leave you alone, and the only way to deal with it is to just go ahead and do it. I leave those in my sketchbook where they will probably never see the light of day. Jackson seems to have no qualms about putting his darkest ideas on display for the world. 

With all of that said, I don't think I can stop following Jackson for this one piece. I enjoy his other work too much to abandon it. Pieces like these:

After giving it some serious thought, I believe it's possible to continue to like, and follow, and be influenced by an artist, even if you don't like everything he does. 

The image in question can be found here:

Not for the squeamish, or those who loved cartoons in the '80s. You've been warned. 

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