I first met Geoff Grogan walking out of the bathroom at the same time at SPX 2008. We had a nice conversation about it being my first SPX, he was complimenting my hat. I think I explained that my style comes from my mother's father more than it comes from any hipster notion of fashion (he hardly went anywhere off the farm without a dress hat). Geoff swung by my table and visited me after that "chance" encounter. I still remember his eyes lighting up when he looked at In Tongues Illustrated. I recall trying to find him, and not finding his table. Without seeing, Look Out!! Monsters, we still talked about a trade. I thank the gods I kept after him on that promise of a trade through the mail, because when I received that book, my eyes also popped. Destiny.
Let's talk turkey. If Grogan was in his twenties and hanging out drinking and socializing with the kids and producing the same work he is now, at least in comics circles, we'd hear more about his work within that tribe. Luckily, this blog is operating outside such a specific tribal structure.
His work is as innovative and dynamic and qualifies as fine art as much anything going now in "art comics" in the U.S., while, at the same time, he is an artist fluent in the form's history. Instead of one of these whip snapping upstarts, he's an elder (but not elderly!) statesman popping with work so vibrant, all the art school/art comics kids should be worshipping at the bronze idol of Grogan.
The reason I've gathered all of you here today is to celebrate my ordering online, delivery by U.S. mail, and consequent reading of Grogan's "sequel" to Look Out!! Monsters: Fandancer. Once again, Grogan has descended/ascended into the over-sized world of his collage technique. The first thing you need to know is that this is one of the best books of last year. It's a bit criminal that this isn't common knowledge.
It's a beautiful whirlwind. And not to bring myself more into the picture than I already have, but I can't help but think that Grogan has taken a poetic, non-linear meditation on femininity, such as I, in my way, attempted with In Tongues Illustrated, its archetypes and myths, and exploded the narrative and woven a rich tapestry of iconic imagery, shaken and stirred and scattered and smothered, and broke the whole thing wide open. It's just that Grogan was more focused and did it better than I.
I see this as like the work of poets like Ezra Pound or Charles Olson, invoking mythology and references to antiquity to create a sort of modernist heroic stance...it's just that Grogan, as visual-verbal poet, gathers all of this history and his remix just happens to be taking place not in the hallowed halls of academia with Shakespeare and that crew with words on a page, but all of it's happening in Jack Kirby's "Negative Zone."
Plot? You want plot? One is aware that Grogan uses all of his experience, everything he's absorbed, and reconstitutes it all on the page. It seems effortless. It reads effortless, although I'm sure the work is anything but effortless for Grogan. The experience of Grogan's experience is the plot. It's a ride to heaven and to hell and after reading it if you didn't know, now you'll know.
So now it's today. Geoff asked me to be in his anthology. I missed him last year at SPX. I hope I see him again soon.
You have a simple mission. Go to his website. Purchase his books. This is not negotiable. Failure to do so is anti-evolution and anti-enlightenment. Please don't let the species down.