visual language of the in-between

by Art Chantry ( )

this image if a shout out to ward sutton. this is him (i dunno exactly what year) standing next to a art installation display unit he created for the seatac international airport in seattle/tacoma. see how young he looks? isn’t that funny? actually he still looks exactly the same after all these years. i hate that.

ward moved to seattle along with a bazillion other kids during the grunge explosion. however, i think he thought of it as a “comix explosion”. with the rocket and fanatgraphics publishing so many other local comic superstars emerging (lynda barry, matt groening, michael dougan, peter bagge, mark zingaerlli, gary larsen, etc. etc. etc.) i think he may have been hoping for an opportunity from just being near all the action.

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he started showing up at the rocket hustling for assignments. it took me a while to warm up to his work (such a little kid!) but, when i did, it was a great fit.

eventually, he came into his own and could be relied upon to consistently turn out great funny biting work. he even learned to draw his own lettering (rather than use existing typefaces) and at that point his work took a meteoric jump. i think it was because he finally felt like he was in total control of not just the image, but the story as well.

after getting his wings in seattle, he made the big jump to next big city – new york. there he immediately made impact (he did that famous john louguiziamo (sp?) “FREAK” poster for his broadway show.) i think he was the only guy in that city actually doing underground style work like the stuff that was popular in undergourndalt world in the rest of the united states. at that point, nyc was strictly playing catch-up ball on hipness.

new york city always seems to hire local first and only seems to barely touch upon the amazing talent available outside their circle of localized vision. all cities are provincial that way. the fact that there was work and styles elsewhere that was mowing down the rest of the world never seems to be noticed by them. it’s like, ‘if it isn’t from NY, it doesn’t really exist.” it’s an attitude that has really consistently held that city back during times of cultural change over the years. then they become the followers rather than the leaders. even with all the world the media based there, they can’t keep up anymore.

so, ward walked in like a blazingly fresh new style ready to conquer the city. he seemed to have immediate success, too. before long he had all the great projects he could handle. it was as wonderful to witness as it was predictable.

recently, he decided to switch his approach and only do work on his own and then shop that work to the media for publishing. he began to do “reviews as comics!” recently he has had his amazing hilarious strip reviews published in the biggest most pervasive and famous newspapers and magazines in the world and spread all over in the ARTICLE

tions of places like ‘the new york times magazine.” not bad, eh?

so, ward is on a creative roll and he’s also out there charting new turf for others to exploit. i predict that there will soon be a number of comics madmen who make the switch. try to imagine peter bagge cartooning his personal film reviews for magazines like “Entertainment Weekly”? i (for one) cannot wait!

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