By Dustin Cabeal
Next week if you're in the Leeds area of the U.K. (Did that sound like I knew where that was? I don't, but God I wish I did), then you should check out P M Buchan's HERETICS art exhibition. As the headline already told you, it's folk-horror art, and just the fact that something like that exists is worth celebrating. Seriously, though, I wish I could go, but considering I can even use the cliche of "across the pond" to describe the distance from me to Leeds (please sound convincing), I won't be able to attend. I will say that P M Buchan is bad ass and I dig anything he's put together so show some support and check it out if you can. If you can't, you better have the exact distance in meters, of why you can't attend... or work I guess.
44FLOOD are partnering with Lady Beck, an artist-led studio space in Mabgate, Leeds, to host HERETICS, an exhibition of folk-horror art by Leeds College of Art and Plymouth College of Art graduates, alongside original artwork from the upcoming 2017 44FLOOD comic-book series HERETICS, created by Martin Simmonds and P M Buchan, with series editor Kasra Ghanbari.
Curated by Leeds-based illustrator and artist John Pearson and Plymouth-based comic-book writer and critic P M Buchan, the HERETICS exhibition juxtaposes unsettling folk-horror artwork by emerging British comic-book artists alongside New York Times-bestselling US artists, award-winning metalmakers, and dark bohemian jewellery artists, to create something bold and new.
P M Buchan, HERETICS co-creator, and HERETICS exhibition co-curator, said: “The genesis for the exhibition may have grown from the comic-book series that I’m working on with artist Martin Simmonds, but it has rapidly grown into a showcase for some of the most exciting emerging comic-creators. The range of diversely talented people that have come together to make HERETICS possible is staggering. We’ve got an artist that’s worked on Red Dead Redemption and the Grand Theft Auto series, an internationally-acclaimed glitch artist, artist’s who are creating comics based on some of the world’s most popular licensed properties, and to top it all off we’ll have an original piece from Ben Templesmith, one of the best respected artists in the comic-book industry. I’d advise anybody coming to the opening party to arrive early!”
HERETICS will launch with a free party at Lady Beck, LS9 7DZ, from 7pm until late on Friday 4 November, with free entry, live art, drinks and music throughout the night, including a playlist selected by Canadian Rue Morgue Magazine’s horror music specialist and former Rue Morgue Radio host, Tomb Dragomir.
John Pearson, HERETICS exhibition co-curator and contributing artist, said: “I can't think of anywhere better than Leeds right now for the creative energy in the art scene and Lady Beck is an artist-led space that showcase the best that the city has to offer, with a rolling calendar of diverse events that encapsulate a broad multitude of art practices. The HERETICS exhibition will combine sequential illustration with fine art, mixing high profile US artists with recent fine art graduates and emerging comic creators, showcasing the space where these visions meet.”
“This will be the third year running that I’ve co-hosted a pre-convention fringe party to mark the beginning of the Thought Bubble weekend comic convention. Both of the previous events were fantastic successes and this year we wanted to try something new, showcasing the kind of live illustration events that I put on with my peers all year round, but for the international audience that Thought Bubble draws to the city.”
Contributing artists include: Surrey-based artist and graphic designer Martin Simmonds, who most recently acted as artist for the Titan Comics series Death Sentence; US-based New York Times bestselling artist and writer Ben Templesmith, who is most widely known for his work in the comic-book industry, where he has received multiple nominations for the International Horror Guild Awards as well as the industry’s top prize, the Eisner Award, and whose IDW comic-book series 30 Days of Night spawned a major motion picture; UK-based comic artist and illustrator Caspar Wijngaard, who is currently working on Dark Souls and Assassin’s Creed series for Titan Comics and is co-creator of the Image Comics series LIMBO; and Leeds-based illustrator and artist John Pearson, co-creator of the comic-book series Beast Wagon which was shortlisted for Best Comic of the Year at the British Comic Awards 2015; alongside recent Plymouth College of Art graduates, contemporary dark bohemian jewellery artist Stevie-Leigh Smith and award-winning metalsmith Luke Axworthy.
HERETICS will also feature original artwork and prints by artists including: London-based visual artist Sarah Gordon, whose Strip was shortlisted for Best Comic of the Year at the 2015 British Comic Awards; Falkirk-based illustrator and designer Alisdair Wood, who has worked on Rockstar Games titles such as Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption and L.A. Noire; Peterborough-based illustrator, comic artist and graphic designer Anna Fitzpatrick; Somerset-based comic-book artist and illustrator Conor Boyle, who is currently working on the Titan Comics series Hookjaw; Sheffield-based illustrator and graphic designer Will Kirkby, whose Tuk Tuk was shortlisted for Best Comic of the Year at the 2012 British Comic Awards; and Devon-based graphic designer James Usill, who recently designed the artwork for number one album Retrograde, for Vans Warped Tour 2016 headlining band Crown the Empire.
P M Buchan concluded: “What I love most about folk-horror can be summed up by the feeling of willingly entering an isolated community and the dawning realisation of being surrounded by people whose values are very different to your own. That was the beauty of archetypal folk-horror films like The Wicker Man, where Sergeant Howie confronts an island community whose religious beliefs differ from his own. That’s a very human, very real kind of conflict.
“In the UK today racism and intolerance seem to have become so legitimised that I can see the appeal of setting up an isolated community with more tolerant people, whose values better reflected my own. Feeling at opposition with the majority of the country helps us to empathise with the characters that are traditionally depicted as villains, and I can’t imagine a more appealing starting point to tell a story than that.”