June 24, 2006


The June issue of Fangoria has a great review on my new artbook, here it is.

Sideshow Monkey
By David Hartman
Lulu Press
96 pp, $29.99

It's a hard-knock life for us horror fans. Especially those who struggle to balance their affinity for babes... and their love of monsters. Sheesh, how does one do it? The bottom line: Merge the two worlds of pin-up fantasy and unspeakable terror. Illustrator/animator/director David Hartman (whose concept art credits include Bubba Ho Tep) seems to have it all figured out, and his solution lies in this carnal compendium of tantalizing flesh and oozing, mammoth monstrosities inked by the maestro of two-dimensional deviancy himself. (Hartman's bio photo on the back cover reveals a grinning, bespectacled, quite diabolical-looking fella.)

The lifeblood of Sideshow Monkey itself is both inspired and, well, quite literally inspired (by past fright favorites). It's a two-tiered collection of straight-up groovy finished pieces and random, fevered sketches where you'll often find a panic ridden soldier trekking across a mishmash of funky fetuses floating in the white void—or, stranger still, a crudely rendered beauty barfing into the mouths of newborn chicks chirping hungrily in their nest. This latter half of Sideshow is a trip into insano-world—Hartman being our Willy Wonka of the weird parading us through a cascade of oafish mummies, cute button-nosed broads bearing guns and zombies. Oh, the zombies. There are plenty of rotting corpses to behold, let me tell you. Gargantuan or pint-sized, flesheaters abound!

If that ain't your thang, Hartman explores just about everything else under the full moon, capturing both classic—Frankenstein's Monster and the Wolf Man are prominent players—and modern fiends. In "Texas Blood" and "Texas Blood 2," Hartman gives us his accurate, amusing portrait of Tobe Hooper's infamous chainsaw family. Peer closer at all his pieces, and you'll find as much going on in the background as there is in the fore.

No film is safe from interpretation either. Return of the Living Dead ("The Living Dead"), Prophecy ("Mercury Bear") and Omega Man ("The Last Man on Earth") all get their loving due with varied color palettes that range from effectively gloomy to carnival-esque. In that vein, wait until you see the freaks Hartman's got up his sleeve. He loves two-faced creeps as much as he loves the ladies who, here, are portrayed as your good old-fashioned, lingerie-wearing victims ("Faces of the Wolf") as well as being just one of the ghouls ("Doorway"). Hartman's way with slender curves and things that go bump in the night is rendered in such a wonderfully cartoonish way, we can all hope he has plans to bring them to animated life someday. (Available on demand at www.lulupress.com.)
—Ryan Turek S

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