dennis dread

he Battle for Art is the struggle against complacency, stagnancy, and laziness. It is the battle against false pretense and weakness in art. Despite all my swaggering hyperbole, this has nothing to do with bonehead machismo and it doesn’t necessarily refer to “hard” or “extreme” imagery. Beautiful and subtle art can be very powerful and more subversive than many self-proclaimed “brutal” artists. I also want to be clear that I don’t necessarily have a problem with commercial art. In fact, many of my own influences from childhood came directly from commercial “trash culture” debris. Everything from Count Chocula cereal boxes and KISS trading cards to album covers and Wacky Packages. Commercial book cover illustrators like James Bama and Frank Frazetta also made a big impact on me as a very young kid. I also really love all the old EC horror comic artists from the 50’s. Those EC covers were some of the most amazing mass produced stuff of the mid-20th century. The economical linework and stark composition just seemed to say so much. And those guys were cranking out stuff at a pace I could never imagine. They had a real solid work ethic and considered themselves blue-collar entertainers and not some precious “artistes”. I identify with that spirit very much. Those EC guys also had a sense of comradery that somehow embodies an important aspect of the best underground art. They posed for each other’s drawings, inked each other’s pencils, helped each other get jobs and generally promoted the development of each other’s individual styles and specialties. Today so many artists seem shallow and self-serving and competitive. And the lines between underground and mainstream commercial art have blurred more than ever. I guess it’s difficult these days to articulate precisely what makes great underground art and what makes wimp art. But you know it when you see it!

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