Phoenix-area artist Jon Haddock has never been afraid to venture off the path of normalcy.
Best known for his vintage mouse porn drawings and Isometric Screenshots of such major crimes as the Kennedy assassination and the Columbine shootings, the ASU graduate turned art professor is currently wearing his geekiness like a badge of honor in "Idios Kosmos : Koinos Kosmos," dual exhibitions at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art inspired by Haddock's love of -- and hatred for -- comic books.
As he told us at a museum talk this past Thursday, "we'll get to the hatred later."
Haddock toured guests around the space, first going through the room of comic strips by favored artists including Basil Wolverton and Unicorn Jelly web manga creator Jennifer Diane Reitz and letting us in on some of his inner thoughts about them. "I was originally going to draw comics all over the walls. But I realized all of my favorite artists are in the next room, and I'd look really dumb next to them," Haddock said of his own neighboring exhibit. "Plus, you'd see where I steal all of my stuff from."
Find out which killers made the cut, and peep some real superheroes after the jump.
Comic strips in the "Masters of Collective Reality" exhibition ranged from beautifully hand-drawn monsters of the Golden era of comic books to more rudimentarily drawn, but emotionally-charged, anime style comics. It was great background info for Haddock's own show, which delved into his intermedia background with pint-sized figures of famous writers such as Phillip K. Dick and H.P. Lovecraft and replicas of comic book weapons made to scale.
Originally, Haddock wanted to crate a virtual terracotta army of the figures -- but there wasn't time. Instead, he gave us a freakish lineup of major players in sci-fi fantasy lit paired with what he calls real-life supervillains.
Haddock's miniature army includes a notorious bank robber and Kenneth Barnes, the guy who made the bomb collar that killed pizza delivery guy Brian Wells. Several feet tall and incredibly detailed, the sepia-toned figures stand beneath a video close-up of Haddock's son reading comic books. Between the massive eyeball of his son, the dark room, and the weird ragtag "army," it's a pretty creepy show.
The giant paper mache weapons on one wall speak to how unrealistic comic books can be: Thor's hammer would be appropriately sized for an average woman, while one gun at the center of the row is so large it would take a weightlifter to wield it were it a real firearm. "They're just the most ridiculous guns ever," quipped Haddock.
These kinds of liberties taken by authors and illustrators are part of why he hates the comic book world so much. When his mom took away Mr. Natural #2 because Haddock (then in fourth grade) was too young to read it, he shunned comics. But when the character of Gwen Stacy was killed off in Spider-Man #121-122, he really went over the edge. "It just pissed me off so badly. I just had to stop [reading]. I couldn't stand it anymore."
Haddock's exhibit is fanciful and entertaining, with life-sized dioramas representing his work and home spaces, and supposed chaos magic sigils on one wall that were covered by red curtains so that Haddock wouldn't see them and destroy the magic (uh-huh). It was hard to believe everything Haddock said about the sigils and the fluffy bear suit hanging on a diorama wall that he swears he'll put on by the end of the show -- but then again, you could say the same of comic books.
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After the talk, Haddock veered over to Scottsdale Public Art's Zap! Pow! Bam! Costume Ball, held in conjunction with the Civic Center Library's "The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books" exhibit. Sadly, he was not in the bear suit.
The huge atrium of the Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts looked a little bare, but those who did turn out were a colorful bunch that Haddock could appreciate: