Filler content with stuffed things

Okay, here’s something from the pages of Black Static #26, and this time you can nip on over to the artist’s website and check his stuff out for yourself:-

Books are the perfect Christmas present, and assuming we don’t get a repeat of last year’s poor showing from the Royal Mail this issue of Black Static might just arrive in time to assist you in deciding what to purchase for your near and dear ones. Alternatively, if it does arrive late then remember that, just like a cute and cuddly kitten, books are not just for Christmas, but can be the gift that keeps on giving.

And while we’re on the subject of kittens, imagine a centre page spread, two round eyed fluffy white kittens perched innocently over their latest kill, with red streamers of intestine falling from their mouths, and on the leg of one is an armband that at first looks like Nazi regalia, though closer inspection reveals a spider in lieu of a swastika. Imagine two sallow skinned mermaids, with spindle arms and hair like windblown bracken, canine teeth and tails that stretch off in serpentine coils. Imagine a nurse, with clockwork mechanisms in place of an eye, a hatchet and scythe like pincers clutched in appendages that resemble paws more than they do human hands, or a woman with curling horns, the skin of her arm unravelled like bloody thread to reveal the bone beneath. Imagine a monocle clad Lord Charles with an albino Suicide Girl homunculus seated on his lap.

All these grotesques and more can be found between the covers of TAXIDERMIED: THE ART OF ROMAN DIRGE (Titan Books hardback, 112pp, £24.99), conveniently arranged in sections variously classified as ‘Sketches’, ‘Artwork’, ‘Scarytales’, ‘Monster!’ and ‘Funny Bone’. The creator and chronicler of the adventures of Lenore, the Cute Little Dead Girl, Dirge is an artist with a distinctive style, though you can find in his work echoes of Patrick Woodroffe’s vibrant eclecticism, the black comedy of Charles Addams, surrealists such as Ernst, and perhaps most appositely the chimerical monster bubble gum cards that were a staple of my youth. He brings to the table his own aesthetic sensibility and vision of the macabre, working with a muted palette, one in which browns and whites, greys and blacks predominate, with brighter colours coming into play only when a splash of blood is needed. The end result is something that could easily be nightmarish, but stops just short thanks to the warped comedy woven into the visual language of every canvas (and emphasised by the self-mocking captions Dirge provides to accompany the illustrations), most obviously in the final section when the artist’s humour comes into full play with a series of pictures that have about them the quality of ‘sick’ jokes (e.g. a poster of a missing cat juxtaposed with a picture of road kill).

Filled with black and white illustrations and full colour work, including several double page spreads, Taxidermied is a showcase volume for an unusual talent, one that won’t appeal to everyone but should reward the expectations of those who delight in the macabre and blackly comedic.

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