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Destroying Angels #10: The Battle for Art

Around 10pm, my Internet connection dies. It does this sometimes when it’s hot outside. I don’t know why. I do know that it’s bloody inconvenient. I have a ton of work to do. My work depends on the Internet. I feel as useless as an Internet-dependent-without-Internet person does in 2010.

So I do other things. I clean my desk. For the first time in months, it has clear space. I need that space for something important – something not dependent on the Internet. I had put it off for a while. In the back of my mind, I knew it was important. But Internet-dependent work kept asserting that it was more important. The Internet has a way of doing that.

That thing is reading Destroying Angels #10. Destroying Angels is the zine of artist Dennis Dread. He ships it in a nice, clear sleeve, the kind comic books have. This issue comes with a pair of 3-D glasses. It’s serious business. Even before opening it, I know it’s not a typical magazine meant to be read in bites. It is a sit-down-at-a-clean-desk type of read. My Internet is dead – now is the right time to read it.

I carefully unwrap the zine. I put on the 3-D glasses. WOW. WOW. I keep saying that, involuntarily. Dread’s drawing of a ghoulish skate punk leaps off the page in layers. The page practically vomits in my face. But instead of puke, it projects spikes, vinyl, and pop culture detritus, all in exacting detail. WOW.

Heavy metal and hand-drawn artwork await inside. This requires an appropriate soundtrack. It can’t be just any metal. It has to be true and strong and strange. I pick the new Garden of Worm album, which is all those things. Justin Bartlett did the artwork. Turns out that he’s mentioned inside. Perfect. With Garden of Worm in my headphones and a single bulb for light, I turn the page.

. . .

Dennis Dread, by Nagawika

. . .

For two and a half hours, I am in Dread’s world. At first his presence is strong. He pays tribute to Frank Frazetta, visits the Frazetta museum, and lays out the experience in hand-cut strips of type. Then the interviews start, and he lets others take the stage.

As I’ve said before, Dread is a generous man. Sure, his business card says “Minister of Poseur Extermination”. His taste in metal is as true as it gets. But judge a man not by his words, but by his actions. Dread opens the floor to a star-studded cast of speakers: Ray Zone, the king of 3-D comics (he helped bring this zine’s 3-D covers to life); Jos. A. Smith, creator of Bathory’s goat’s head; Julien Nagawika, who does his interview half-handwritten, half as comics; Pushead, who for the first time I’ve seen speaks not in pictures but with words, with a nuts-and-bolts guide for young artists (I can tell that Dread has dutifully followed it); and Jowita Kaminska, whose work I will look up once I get my damn Internet back. Old habits die hard.

Two highlights stand out for me. The first is Nagawika’s comic strip of Dread collaborating with Darkthrone on an album cover. The strip captures its actors’ essences perfectly (as much as I know, anyway), and climaxes with an uproarious sendup of Dread’s style. Nagawika illustrating Dread illustrating Darkthrone – such referential humor is a hallmark of underground comics.

. . .

Excerpt from Jim Osborne biography

. . .

The second is a biography of comic artist Jim Osborne. Dread is an artist, not a writer, but for 12 pages he draws me into the vortex of Osborne’s life. It’s weird, fascinating, and tragic. ’70s San Francisco is a dark place filled with drugs and lost souls like Osborne. Dread’s passion for his subject is obvious. He draws on previously unpublished material and splices in excerpts of Osborne’s art, which is shocking and adventurous, even by today’s standards. The story is one of those draining but fulfilling experiences that make one say, “Whew!”. Good movies can do that. This zine is the length of a feature film, and priced like one – $12 domestic, $16 international. 99% of films won’t leave you better off afterwards. This zine will.

It’s not perfect. The Internet does intrude – a MySpace address here, an email address there, digital pixelation on one page. This is 2010, after all. Dread used the Internet to construct and market this zine. But it’s indicative how jarring those intrusions are. This zine is an eloquent ode to handmade art, whether done by brush, pencil, or pen. Dread’s battle for art is keeping man from succumbing to machines. No Photoshop horrors here – only humans using simple tools to conjure up entire worlds. Who needs the Internet, anyway?

— Cosmo Lee

. . .

Text by Pushead

. . .

Purchase Destroying Angels #10

. . .

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