The relations between monsters and kids are never anything less than endearing. Unless it involves guts. In that case we’re bound to confront a cold, hard truth that reveals monsters are sometimes far removed from childhood wonderments as seen in Pixar and that checking our closets before bedtime isn’t a bad idea. And yes, these critters exist - so before getting too comfortable; there is probably a room you’ve forgotten to fumigate with the ole monster spray.
Alright, it’s time to come clean: stating monsters exist is a slight exaggeration. In fact, the monster spray trick only works on children because they believe in this stuff. But that’s the point: kids believe in this stuff. They have a rapport with monsters and that’s something we couldn’t take away even if we tried. We’ve all been there – either afraid of the dark, of sounds from under the bed or that creepy mascot from some local event – whatever the case, we believed even if a little. That’s the overarching premise in this very first instalment from fancyQUACKS. Ready? Then sit tight as we explore imaginary friends and some rather unfriendly foes as seen in the minds of creatives sensitive to these themes. Let’s develop an insight into what their inner kid is asserting to their older selves and what their expression means to them.
A more focussed effort to this end will be around illustrator Daniel Alexander (subway-cat) whose playful cartoonist depictions meditates hugely on kids and critters.
These critters consider curly toes of boys a particularly toothsome delicacy (without the nails, of course). They find other preferences in finely chopped pigtails seasoned in stomach acid. The burden on kids to avoid these foes is great – meaning talking to strangers is off-limits and night time means home time.
Monsters and how to fight them... With art!
Popular monsters in the media can be super advocates for the notion of ‘monsters’ being a balanced view, with “good” monsters being plausible at all. But the horror icons omnipresent from 20th century film instil fear that’s infectious to kids who are making sense of the world through television screens. It’s one of the influences keeping momentum in the preoccupation of critters and the themes around them that are actively recycled and regenerated. Unfriendly foes are a rumination among kids and when it drives their creative journeys it becomes a noteworthy thing! So what does any of this mean? It means monsters want to eat your curly toes, of course. Well, at least in the minds of suggestible children. But more than that, it explains why almost all kids will at some point in their years benefit from monster spray - or its equivalent in using art to cope without it. It offers clues that help us to understand a very prominent origin of the monster-related interests of illustrators since before their adolescence. It’s an area of significance because while all of the works featured in this issue are delicious, it’s often a stimulating muse to penetrate beyond gorgeous aesthetic to uncover meaning and purpose.
Let’s consider that a moment: the artistic value behind kids and critters. We’re soon to identify with our Featured Artist but we will benefit from inspecting his work before we move on to our accompaniment of Unfriendly Foes.
The personal insights of Daniel Alexander (subway-cat) will help us relate to the motivations behind his body of work and likely that of others too. From rabbit gladiators to oversized cats and everything in-between, the work of Daniel Alexander is eye-candy that will leave you in puddles of your own saliva. Fair warning, wouldn’t you say? Before we gobble him up in his interview – let’s take a preliminary look outlining who Subway Cat is. It should be noted that “Subway Cat” is in fact a collective of Daniel and his companion, so to view his work more exclusively, head over to an older account: RyuDan.
This guy’s visual eloquence is nothing short meticulous and demonstrates his utmost care and attentive prerequisites to drawing. Indicative of his spiritual interests, Daniel’s lands, moons and worlds exist beyond many hills from here and are revealed to us as though from behind a window gazing into his consciousness. His control for the subjects seen in these works is reminiscent of the control he practices for his thoughts more generally.
Daniel collaborates with great frequency alongside such artists as pacman23 and FabianMonk and is hugely involved in art related forums like SatelliteSoda. Storytelling and combined fantasies look like other crucial components to Daniel’s work which we’ll explore in more detail after learning why good monsters are instrumental to this...
These critters mostly wander the dim, cold city streets during the early hours, finding toes to return them to rightful owners. Lots of foes drop them when they feed...
Additional to this, they may emerge from your closet during sleepy time but only to fill up their Scare gauge. They're prompt and never take more than a few minutes - so you're all good.
From haunted to haunter...Imaginary Friends are often monster meditations of artists who delight in the control they have over these otherwise devious critters. As artists, we’re in the driving seats – or under monsters’ beds – in a role reversal that’s spiritually satisfying. Imaginary Friends are a product of our grown-up monster-friendly way of taking back control and depicting them devoid of guts and toes.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if monsters aren’t tangible, real things like puppies of the corgi kind. It’s the artistic expression resultant from believing otherwise that almost acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy. You see, it’s often the case that creatives themselves become the characters they invent. We live as many heroes - and villains too; our abstractions of reality through art is the motivator in this process of creation.
"The monsters of our childhood do not fade away, neither are they ever wholly monstrous. But neither, in my experience, do we ever reach a plane of detachment regarding our parents, however wise and old we may become. To pretend otherwise is to cheat."
- John le Carre, detailing the prevalence of monsters in all life, both young and old!
Below are works by kick-ass artists who embrace the concept of monsters, followed by an interview that probes this fascination in detail. Both imaginary friends and foes will be present, so you might want to think about topping up on your monster spray…
Pivotal Moments by DanielAraya
Daniel Araya is an artist whose preoccupation with that which isn’t true to life by means of artistic expression makes use of realistic form that brings his ideas that much closer to reality. We will illuminate about the ‘pivotal moment’ that we all experience in art before bringing this issue to a close - just after the interview. Following this, be sure to indulge yourself in the immersion that comes with the work of DanielAraya. What’s more is that both DanielAraya and subway-cat make appearances in a recent publication called “The Master of Anatomy”. Just sayin'!
When monsters are alright...
The process of art is an escapist trait we use to detach ourselves from reality or simply life. In communicating this escapism to people outside of our worlds is an intimate gesture and wonderful gift. It’s an unspoken arrangement between artists and appreciators – or anyone else engaging mutually with the experiences of creative expressions being shared. It’s a quest of introspection for us to reflect on ourselves in response to art.
After all, we search for answers as kids that nobody has a clue for. Anything outside of our own self is uncontrollable and unpredictable; the pivotal moment is when we master our anxieties and adapt in accordance to change. Monsters are alright, you know. Once you’re in control of your own monsters it’s easy to appreciate them and show them to the world...
Of course, when you fight monsters you become one in the process. We're all monsters in our own little ways - we aren't so different from imaginary friends or unfriendly foes. On that note, here are some things to think about...
1. What are your monsters? (eg. illness, art-block, nagging cats who are always hungry)
2. How do you overcome your monsters? We’d be interested to know your means of intervening when things get out of hand!
1. Pigtails or curly toes? Why no nails for the latter?
2. Why do you get a kick from hiding under our beds? Got rent for that?