The bizarre brains behind “Suspect Device” and “Henry & Glenn”
Josh Bayer, mastermind behind Suspect Device, and Mark Rudolph, illustrator of the latest installment of Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever, came to Atomic Books this week and we stopped by to check it out.
Suspect Device is an anthology in which Bayer, who teaches comics/drawing classes at the 3rd Ward in Brooklyn, encourages artists to sample comic art the way a hip-hop artist might sample music. He gives the artists the first and last panels, which oftentimes couldn’t be more unrelated, and tells them to fill in the middle. The result? A deranged lampoon of everything such classic comic strips as Nancy, Little Orphan Annie, and Garfield have held dear all these years (the unforgivable depiction of Nancy and Garfield making love in Suspect Device #2 has forever and ever altered my conception of said characters). Bayer’s formula is, at its heart, a device for creating something entirely new. Artistic freedom abounds, as do the damn laughs.
Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever relates the love story betwixt odd couple Glenn Danzig (Misfits founder/singer/songwriter) and Henry Rollins (former Black Flag frontman) and their haphazard antics (in Issue #1, the two sweethearts quarrel with satanist neighbors Hall and Oates over property values). Mark Rudolph, probably best known for his illustrative work for Metal Hammer magazine, brilliantly brings this idea to living color.
About seventeen inquisitive souls showed up for the thing. It was a real intimate sort of setting. Plastic seats were lined up in front of Rudolph and Bayer, who sipped on Brewer’s Art Ozzy Ale and Natty Boh, respectively. Topics of discussion ranged from the longevity of punk/metal bands (Rudolph said that he’s in town for all four days of Maryland Deathfest) to the D.C. hardcore music scene to zines to how well anthologies sell. Rudolph offered a comic formula—you take an action, an inanimate object, and a place and just run with it. Bayer proposed butt-fucking, a potato, and a psychiatrist’s office. Not bad at all.
The artists stuck around for a while afterward, chatting with the congregation and drawing sketches and things. As for me, I had to ramble. I’ve got two bizarrely beautiful, newly-purchased comic books to pore over. And I don’t suspect I’ll ever be looking at the art form the same.
(Photo: from left, Rudolph and Bayer)