Afternoon with Derek Ballard
Tags: Derek Ballard
Leela took a mini-break from Unterzakhn and Tom took a break from you-don’t-want-to-know-what, and we spent the afternoon with Gainesville’s Derek Ballard, (aka The Line Tamer) and looked at his book-in-progress, whose title I forget but the layout comes from those little Peanuts hardcovers you’d get in the 70s. Anyway.
His super stylized way of drawing is fascinating. A contrast of angular and cold lines and shapes with robotic/sci-fi imagery while applying a generous coat of terse but organic lines on hair, clouds, rocks and knotty wood and other natural phenomenon.
And see how he incorporated this into his linework for some bizarre concoction he’s got working:
One reason I moved out of NY to start my school was to break out of a couple of the cycles/ruts I was in.
Derek is exactly the guy I needed to meet. More “art” than “comix” in the art-comix world, exploring time and space and narrative content on the page, but not “telling stories” per se, or at least not a slave to it. I’ve taught being a slave to narrative for 10 years and needed to take a step back and look at other possibilities for comix before rebooting my teaching. Derek is a part of the school of comix you can see coming out of Revival House Press, Diamond Comics in Portland, some of Annie Koyama’s books, Michael DeForge, etc. It’s sci-fi, monsters, quest comics, it’s genre, technically accomplished but outside of the mainstream of DC/Marvel/Dark Horse genre. Genre as self-exploration. Culture mash-ups as personal fun-house mirror. It’s a strange and interesting time.
Oddly, being in NYC for so long kept me remarkably uncultured in my own medium. I had a very productive tunnel vision. I spent a lot of time looking backward: EC Segar, Walt Kelly, Milt Caniff, King, Opper, Grey, etc. But I knew it was time to come out and look around the current culture more. Oddly, I can do that more easily here in Gainesville where I’ve got more time, I’m meeting people like Derek, we’re ordering books for the SAW library. In NYC, at SVA, I became conversant in art history, in comics history, illustration history, in technique. Here I’m becoming conversant in the current stream again.
So pick up Derek’s book when it comes out, it’ll feature this incredibly weird and interesting comic, Mongrel