Monster Island Three

I feel sorry for people who don’t regress in progressive ways.

They are not monsters and not interesting. One of my friends is obsessed with reliving his childhood by looting garage sales for all the He-Man and G.I. Joe he can cram into his psychotic apartment. But in the end he’s just a consumer, and fails to actually empower his nostalgic 20th century identity crisis. What the hell am I talking about? I’m saying that, it’s one thing to either hunt for or eBay one’s material childhood, but it’s another to have the balls to divulge and comprehend where you first started out as a wee li’l artist. Do you remember when you were the only one in the whole world Saturday morning, and you found yourself in front of a stack of comics or listening to spooky records or reading a scary book, and you felt as though you had the run of the universe, it was sort of raining outside and no adults could be detected anywhere and you’re pretty sure you heard a monster or a witch tapping on the window outside? Come on, don’t be shy. Take off your tie. Yes? Really? Then there’s a chance you’ve probably been to Monster Island.

Editor Billy Mavreas talks about why he put this book together in the introduction, “children raised on fantasy and science fiction get into art early and deeply.” In many ways Mavreas has curated a masterful collection of what fan fiction experts classify as “Mary Sue” stories, (fan fiction in which the author is a well-loved or possibly hero or heroine of the piece, or is rescued by the main character.) Mavreas’s artists identify deeply with the environment into which they are cast.

Mavreas goes on to say he “discovered that each of the contributors here stars in his/her own origin story.” And that is what is most important, I think, as an artist, to cherish and embellish that starting point of your creative consciousness, and continue to acknowledge and reinvent it. On your spooky charter to Monster Island Three (the first two were in micro-zine format) don’t forget to check out the eros-driven work from John Mavreas, Fiona Smyth, and the ink blots by Guy Boutin are worth taking to your psychiatrist. There are texts too, in the form of substantial essays by Patrick Burger who contributes a fascinating piece on German pulps set in Africa from the 1930s. Andy Brown writes with fandom passion on Jack Kirby’s final comic series, while Rupert Bottenberg adds a humourous text/visual piece. Another clearing on the island full of wonder is Mavreas’s feature on how he came to discover and get hooked on the work of Iqaluit-born, Ottawa based writer and visual storyteller Alootook Ipellie. Shawn Gheng’s work shall be classified as a triple threat: psychedelic, animalistic and anti-pedestrian, while Tessa Fenger’s detail is intoxicating and mischievously elfish. It’s hard to mention just a few of the over 20 artists who inhabit Monster Island Three, so book your charter now, and leave your necktie with the six-eyed ticket wicket guy. (Nathaniel G. Moore)

Graphic Novel, 168 pgs, by Billy Mavreas, $15.00, Conundrum Press PO Box 55003 CSP Fairmount Montreal, Quebec, H27 3E2, conundrumpress.com

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