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John G

Doug recently spoke with local artist John G, who does a lot of the covers for “Scene” magazine and has a new Cleveland-based comic book called “The Lake Erie Monster” out now!

Doug Esper: John, before I start shooting questions at you, I want you to know you need to raise the ad prices in The Lake Erie Monster. I stopped in a comic shop out in Sheffield and the guy working said he already had several people stop in after seeing their ad.

John G: (Chuckles) Well, we set out to break even with this issue. Jake Kelly and I sat down and mapped out the first year and a half to two years of issues and hopefully by the end of the first year we can be financially stable. We don’t expect to be making a living from this comic or other comics, but, who knows, maybe we’ll fucking sell the rights to it and make a movie.

 

Doug: In The Lake Erie Monster we see a 70’s era Cleveland. How did you choose the time period?

John G: Well, it was mostly Jake (Kelly), actually. The idea came from 10 fake movie posters he did for an art show he and I did. The posters were homages or tributes to the schlocky horror movies from that time period. Cleveland had hit its peak in the 60’s and is definitely on a downward spiral during the events of these stories. Economically, environmentally, and culturally it’s an interesting time in Cleveland to set any story, but it’s perfect for a horror story that is a borderline parable about pollution and big business.

 

Doug: How did you and Jake Kelly hook-up and decide to do this project?

John G: I’ve known Jake since high school, so over the last 16 or 17 years we’ve been on this weird parallel career trajectory that came together a couple years ago. We do a lot of the same things like posters for shows, fliers, comics of our own, or oddly enough, he does the murals for Melt and I do the monthly posters for them.

 

Doug: Recently you and your artwork appeared on some posters for Invacare. How did that come about?

John G: I was at a party and a woman asked me about my wheelchair. It was an old, beat up A4 and I was pretty disparaging. It turns out the woman worked at Invacare. Through her, I met a guy who was in development over at Top End, which is Invacare’s line geared more toward athletic, light chairs. He was looking for a different way to market the Top End brand. He asked me to come up with a pamphlet of art to go along with this medical jargon he had come up with called, I think, Rollability. Through that, they used one of my drawings for a poster. Then, they started a campaign where they photographed people in their wheelchairs that are quote/unquote successful people. They asked me to do one and, I did it. That’s how that all came about. I hope I can do more work for them in the future.

 

Doug: I can say that you are the first artist I have a poster of on my wall that isn’t a poster of their art. So, did you guys design all the ads as well in The Lake Erie Monster?

John G: Yeah, we tried to give the ads a look that represented the ads in comics at the same time in the 70’s.

 

Doug: What, the Sea Monkeys ad wasn’t available? I remember those ads in every comic I read as a kid.

John G: Actually, you can look for a Sea-monkeys-type ad in issue two. They will definitely make an appearance. For the next issue we’re going to switch off some of the ads we each worked on. I’m excited to dig into a lot of those old ads and to come up with ads of our own.

 

Doug: Who are some of the artists that influenced you and helped develop your style?

John G: I’m way into comics. Especially those coming out during the time that Jake and I are trying to appropriate. I love classic horror comics. My favorites were, Creepy and Eerie. A lot of people that worked on them are influences.

 

Doug: Like Bernie Wrightson?

John G: Yeah, like Bernie Wrightson, and Richard Corben, who is one of my all-time favorites. I don’t think my work is as illustrative as Wrightson, but the influence can be felt in my work. Recently, (Mike) Mignola with his Hellboy stuff is some of my favorite stuff. There is a lot of influence in my stuff from Jake and other local artists as well. Not as much in how things look, but in concepts and ideas. I feel like I’m always in this game of one-upsmanship with my friends. When I see their work, I’ll think “I can blow that out of the water” or “man, I wish I would’ve thought of that”.

 

Doug: What’s your favorite thing about Jake’s art?

John G: Jake has a very natural style. I’ve seen his art in every stage, from doodles to the final immaculate pieces of art, and it always feels natural. It has an old craftsman feel to it. Too many artists rely on Photoshop and digital production. He doesn’t even know how to use Photoshop. I do, so I know how to cheat. (Chuckles)

 

Doug: (Chuckles) What do you want to accomplish with your art? Where is one place you’d love to see your art hanging?

John G: Well…

Doug: I hope your answer is on my wall.

John G: At the end of the day, it’s cool to make a living and to be able to contribute to the visual dynamic of my environment here in Cleveland. But, I think my theme or the driving force behind my art is to be as honest and as thoughtful as possible in each poster or piece or whatever I’m working on. That’s what keeps me interested, but, yeah, it would be cool to be on your wall. (Chuckles) It would be the ultimate honor. In addition to that, part of the reason we’re doing this comic book is, just like every other artist, I have these secret dreams or lifelong dreams I’d like to fulfill. There are two comic books I’d love to contribute to the canon of. I mentioned Hellboy earlier, and whatever work I could get contributing to that is a lifelong dream of mine. I don’t know how realistic that is. In addition, and probably even less-probable career goal, would be to work on Hellblazer, or some deviation of the Hellblazer canon. Both those books have had a profound influence on my life, not just my work.

 

Doug: So, what our telling me is that as long as the comic has “Hell” in the title, you want to work on it, right?

John G: Heh, yeah why not do both books. We can do a crossover.

 

Doug: So, I have to ask, what is your favorite sandwich at Melt?

John G: If you eat meat, The Big Popper with the bacon add-on is an awesome sandwich. I recently stopped eating meat and dairy, but The Big Popper is the jam.

 

Doug: This was a bad question because I’m stuck on 480 in traffic and now I’m getting hungry.

John G: Yeah, I might have to get some Melt take-out.

 

Doug: Where is the best place for people to view your work, and what do you have coming up?

John G: You can check out www.ninepanelgrid.blogspot.com. There is also a link to that site at our comic book page, thelakeeriemonster.com. As far as shows, the only one I have scheduled right now is at a tattoo/art gallery in Cleveland Heights called, “Kollective Gallery”. I’m not sure exactly what I am going to do for that one. I have a few ideas, but I’m not sure which I’m going to run with, yet, but it should be fun because they are very cool there. We will also have a release party for the second issue of The Lake Erie Monster at Blue Arrow Records in late July.

Bright Shiny Day by James Frey

Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey book cover

Four rays of Los Angeles sunshine peek out in a bloated, unorganized affair in which the biggest character is the city itself. Sure, Bright Shiny Day has its moments and those moments are superb, but this book feels like a cop-out in many ways.

Author James Frey, best known for his Oprah book club fiasco, offers up multiple story-lines which take place at various racial, economical, moral, and geographical points around the city of Los Angeles. The various characters become instantly recognizable as the Hollywood stereotypes they are. Whether its the insanely rich, closet homosexual, actor who feels he can get away with anything, the homeless man with a heart, or the young couple fleeing terrible Ohio for a fresh start, you will find it very easy to invest yourself in these characters and either root or jeer them as they progress.

The stories are told at random points and random lengths throughout the book and interspersed are “tidbits” and stories from Los Angeles’ past. At first this becomes a great way to set the scene and gear someone’s mind to not only recognize but to understand the city and how it is different from other metropolitan areas. However, as the book drags and the tidbits and stories get longer and longer they take away from the main story completely. About halfway through the book I found myself wishing Mr. Frey would just cut them out and get back to the story. About three-fourths of the way through I found myself questioning whether I cared enough to continue walking through the nuggets of trash polluting the sands of Venice Beach he was passing off as entertainment. The facts never stop coming and, in fact, late in the book they seem to get worse as if he realized his book would be way too short without more randomness. At this point he starts adding short snippets of stories and introducing new characters, some fiction and some non-fiction, that have nothing to do with the book. Just like the lengthy history of the city these snippets become weeds snuffing out the rose of a story he was crafting.

Luckily, I listened to the book on CD and the reader, actor Ben Foster, was on point the whole book. His various voices, intensity, and most important his humorous excitement during the lengthy interludes kept the book entertaining long after the writing had ceased to do so.

Perhaps, in the end, I just didn’t grasp how “LA” the book and stories were. Maybe, as a Cleveland, Ohio native with a below average education and an unnatural love of overeating I just missed the point. In the end, I feel like Bright Shiny Day gets lost in the Los Angeles smog.

 

Dave Mustaine Book Signing Tour

From his early, crazy days as a founding member of Metallica, Dave Mustaine has seen and experienced everything in the world of rock n’ roll. From his young triumphs and ignominious ouster from the band for his hard-partying ways to his later rule over Megadeth, one of the most successful heavy metal bands of all time, Mustaine tells it all. Outrageously candid and in-your-face, this is a classic rock memoir — an insider’s look at the loud and sordid world of heavy metal.

Dave Mustaine will be at the Legacy Village Joseph-Beth Booksellers location for a book signing August 18th, from 12:30 to 2:30 pm.

Check out www.megadeth.com/books.php for more on the book and the signing tour or www.josephbeth.com/Product.aspx?ProductID=43136 for bookseller info.

Oderus Urungus Of Gwar Featured In Spin Magazine

2009 truly has been the year of GWAR. They released their 25th anniversary album Lust in Space on Metal Blade Records; they are currently on their 25th anniversary tour with Lamb of God, and The Red Chord. ODERUS URUNGUS has become the “Interplanetary Correspondent” for Fox News Red Eye, and now ODERUS URUNGUS is featured in the latest issue of SPIN Magazine.

The feature in the November 2009 issue of SPIN Magazine takes place at the Slave Pit in Antarctica and it is entitled “In My Room”. GWAR’s warty front-thing takes an exuberant amount of pride in showing off his room and all of his unique possessions, including his dead dog “Pookie” who has been with him since the beginning as his lover and his pet.

Speaking of pets and more specifically dogs, ODERUS URUNGUS, BEEFCAKE THE MIGHTY and BALSAC THE JAWS OF DEATH served as celebrity judges in the 14th Annual Burton Snowboard Pet Costume Contest in Burlington, VT. The event is held every year to benefit CHILL, a charity group dedicated to giving underprivileged children a chance to try snowboarding and other winter sports.

Photographer Jeremy Saffer Set To Release ‘Bring The Noise’ In April

Photographer Jeremy Saffer will release his first book of photography on Tuesday, April 21st. Entitled Bring The Noise, the 120-page hardcover collection features 156 full-color band images, all taken from Saffer’s extensive career shooting music’s best and brightest. Bring The Noise gathers a broad selection of artists, representing the varied spectrum of both the metal and hardcore scenes. Lacuna Coil, Bleeding Through, All That Remains, Dimmu Borgir, Bring Me The Horizon, Norma Jean, Earth Crisis, Behemoth and many more all make appearances within the pages of Bring The Noise, which also contain a number of exclusive, never-before-seen images. The book is available for pre-order NOW on Saffer’s website, www.jeremysaffer.com/bringthenoise. “The word ‘talented’ absolutely belongs to Mr. Saffer,” says Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil.

Featuring a foreword penned by Saffer subject and Eighteen Visions bassist MickDeth, Bring The Noise will be made available to the public on Tuesday, April 21st. However, there will be a special early release for the book at the 2009 New England Metal And Hardcore Festival on April 17th, where Bring The Noise will be featured alongside official Metalfest merchandise. The book will be sold to festival-goers in advance at a special discounted price. James Hart of Eighteen Visions/Burn Halo declares Jeremy as “…one of the great rock and metal photographers of the last decade,” while Hatebreed front man Jamey Jasta says of Saffer, “His photos speak to me; I admire his work, and all he captures with his lens.”

A native of Western Massachusetts, Jeremy Saffer’s dedication and drive has grown to become synonymous with the fertile and ripe New England underground which spawned him. A longtime contributor to Outburn Magazine, Saffer is also the house photographer for the esteemed Worcester Palladium, as well as the official photographer of the venue’s annual New England Metal and Hardcore Festival. The photographer has also worked with many respected underground record labels, including Century Media Records, Nuclear Blast, Victory Records, Trustkill, and Prosthetic Records, as well as ESP guitars, Draven shoes, and Peavey Electronics…all of whom have been impressed with Saffer’s hard work, dedication, and talent.

Saffer, well known in industry circles for his fantastic images and vibrant style, is excited to finally document years of his work, saying “I’m really excited. For me, it holds many amazing memories of photo sessions I’ve done throughout my career. Everything from shooting Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil in a bathtub full of black water and doing the first US photo shoot Carcass has done in over ten years, to covering the first shoot Earth Crisis did since their break up in 2002, and the many other amazing shoots I was lucky enough to do in my first few years as a photographer. This book sums up my career thus far, so I’m really pumped on having a bunch of diverse work from different genres of heavy music all collected in one book. This is a chance for people to really see what I’ve done thus far, from all the angles of my career.”

“A lot of us take pictures, but Jeremy takes photographs,” enthuses David Ellefson, formerly of Megadeth. “Even though his subjects are some of the biggest icons of rock who are worthy of a thousand words to tell their story, Jeremy says it all in one snap of a shutter.”

Bring The Noise is a full color, hardcover, 8.5 x 11 book, with dust jacket, and retails at $49.99. Preorders receive a special $10 off discount, and come packaged with a limited edition Bring the Noise/Jeremy Saffer guitar pick collection courtesy of InTuneGP.com.

Pre-order link: www.jeremysaffer.com/bringthenoise

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