Books that have come my way

The Art of S. Clay Wilson (Ten Speed Press)… and… Drawing Comics Is Easy (Except When It’s Hard) by Alexa Kitchen (Denis Kitchen Publishing)…Both of these books showcase the work of gifted artists, so I read them at the same time, alternating sections. It would be hard to find two more disparate styles. The 174-page (with lots of color) Wilson compilation was published when he was 65 years old; Kitchen’s handbook on how to draw comics was put together when she was seven! Wilson, creater of the Hog-ridin’ Fools, Ruby the Dyke, Captain Piss-Gums, the Checkered Demon, and other alternative icons familiar to readers of underground comix, is immersed in a world of violence, gore, and sick sex. He’s unrepentantly plied his craft for 50 years, and there’s no one like him (except maybe Robert Williams, a little bit). Kitchen, on the other hand, exudes innocence and exhibits an almost genetic understanding of cartooning. Both artists exemplify their respective art forms to the nth degree. They both have fans, and lots of them. Robert Crumb, for example, refers to Wilson’s drawings as “…rough, crazy, lurid, coarse, deeply American…a nightmare vision of hell-on-earth never so graphically illustrated before in the history of art!” And of Kitchen, Crumb comments, “Her stuff is way exceptional.” Wilson: jaded master of artistic rebellion. Kitchen: wunderkind, with a productive lifetime in graphic art beckoning her onward. Really, her simple renedrings remind me of Harvey Kurtzman’s work as much as anyone’s. Two exceptional artists, two great books.