While looking for an experimental artist to interview, Jeff and I passed Sarah P’s “Gay Porn Space Opera!” table to which Jeff said, “Well, that certainly seems experimental.” We began to talk to Sarah P about her work and eventually asked her how she perceived her relationship with avant-garde and experimental work. She characterized her relationship as “fake” and explained that she did not really desire to have a relationship with the avant-garde. She believed her Gay Porn Space Opera was relatively conventional aside from its novel premise. Sarah P was fun to talk to – she told us that the inspiration beyond her comic was simple. She made something that she wanted to read herself that didn’t yet exist. Indeed there is a dearth of Gay Porn Space Operas on the market. Sarah P then directed us to the artist beside her, R.M. Rhodes, who she believed to be a truly experimental artist. I think he also collaborated with her on the Gay Space Porn Opera, too!
R.M. Rhodes was the gent with thick sideburns wearing a purple-three piece suit with purple business cards. Rhodes explained first that he doesn’t/can’t draw, so he uses many other methods to present his work. He took some sort of scrap-booking class at Michael’s and made a scrapbook narrative and has also created a long form metafiction combining photo generated graphics and photographs against a green screen background. Sometimes he photographed other people to insert into his comics but often used his own image because he explained, he is himself always around to take more pictures if he desired to make any changes to the work.
Rhodes also gave us some information on the business side of being an independent comic artist. He has a day job and has dedicated the last five years or so to building a career as an artist. His wife is in marketing, so she gives him advice on how to present himself as an artist(purple suits and purple business cards were apparently her suggestion). He told us that he has sold more lately than ever before, so he’ll be very happy if, in five years, he makes as much progress as he’s made in the last five.
By far the most fascinating part of our Rhodes interview was when he explained what got him started as an artist. He got this “Bueno” patch in New York for under a dollar and realized he could place it on any picture to start a story or communicate some sentiment. Below is the Bueno patch on one of his creations “Emo Galactus.” His suit doesn’t look very purple in that picture, but oh it was. Check out R.M. Rhodes website here http://oletheros.com/. I think he at first thought Jeff and I were more important than we actually were since we interviewed him and wrote down his every word. He even abandoned his table to ask us who we were and what the questions were for. So definitely give his online blog some hits and check out his review of SPX.
Our comic expert at lunch explained that when you walk into the room, it’s like hundreds of artists look at you hopefully with the intention of making a sale. This was entirely true. It was at times awkward to browse through work and not make a purchase; however my best interactions were with some artists that made no effort to sell anything. Sarah P and R.M. Rhodes were just incredibly fun to talk to/interview. One artist seemed to be waiting for someone in the crowd to make eye contact with him. When I came over, he explained in detail how he made his comic and then just asked what I thought about it. There was another artist around A4 who seemed to ask every passerby if they were awesome, and when they inevitably responded yes, he gave them a free button and a free sample of his upcoming work. I tried to find him using the SPX Exhibitor site but instead found this really cool artist http://www.artichokepresents.com/ from approximately the same area.
I loved listening to Chris Ware speak – he was so humble and fun to listen to. His childhood story about his graffitied lunchbox just summed up so much of what I felt as I read The Acme Novelty Library. It was surprising, funny, and devastating all at once. I definitely look forward to reading Building Stories next month.
Lastly, I also enjoyed the independent Marriott buffet exhibit nextdoor, particularly the bacon and the maple scones.