STATUS UPDATE 02
The Phantom Pleasure Newsletter
Here is a tiny version of the illustration/painting/digital art I did for basically no reason/for fun. It’s an hommage to the 1980’s version of Heavy Metal Magazine (Métal hurlant). I love looking at art from that weird and wild era, I tried to capture the style and honor their legacy.
I hope you all enjoyed the first completed episode of The Phantom Pleasure! I’ve received a lot of positive feedback, and some really good questions. I’m so grateful for the thought some of you have put into your experience with the story. I hope you all stick with it, as the characters and their arcs expand over time. There is a fully developed plan and plot to all this.
Phantom Pleasure Episode 2.0 will delve into Echo’s past, specifically what her premium life was like before she screwed up and got downscaled into the slums. In my mind, despite its punk E-rotic aesthetic, this story is very much rooted in the Raymond Chandler noir tradition.
Echo is one of those tragic characters who buys the ticket and boards the train, even though she knows it’s headed to hell. She does it because she wants to be there for the person she loves, to make the ride something beautiful before the inevitable crash. But as she searches the aisles, her lover slips off the train just before it leaves the station. Face pressed against the glass, Echo watches the world stretch into high-speed streaks, abstract colors. Then she sinks into the seat, alone. She lights a cigarette, focusing on the burning ember caught between her fingers; as the train dives into that long, dark tunnel.
I fear this newsletter may run long, so I’ll stop the preamble here. I often get asked about what my sources of inspiration are, what films I’m watching, what I listen to while I work, etc and so on; so I’ll try to put some of those things together in this ongoing newsletter. And I’ll explain some background on The Phantom Pleasure characters, their motivations and history; as needed.
So to properly start, here are some wonderful works that had a major impact on me creatively. I hope they inspire you, too.
Valentina is a very wild, very adult Italian comic series; written and illustrated by Guido Crepax (1933-2003). The main character is a sultry photographer who gets caught up in bizarre mysteries and dangerous situations, and the tales often mutate into fantasy and sci-fi eroticism. Over time, the series became less about physical expressions of romance and seduction, and more about the psychological/fantastical nature of it. The ‘Ecstatic Truth’ as Herzog would say. I absolutely love how dreamy this comic is.
For such a strange and melodramatic series, it’s very grounded in some ways. Valentina’s daily routines seem real, her quiet moments of introspection and curiosity feel natural. And much like 2000AD’s Judge Dredd, Valentina and the world around her aged in real time throughout the comic’s run. The series began in 1965, ending in 1995. Valentina was 53 in her last story.
I was first exposed to Valentina in some very old issues of Heavy Metal Magazine that I found when I was much too young to be reading that sort of thing. Ah well… I’m pretty sure most of it flew over my head.
People often focus on the obscure and sometimes funny fetishism of the artwork and stories, (If you’re already a fan of AEON FLUX, you’ll know what I mean) which is understandable. But for me, it was all about the emotions flowing out of the eyes and subtle movements of the characters. Crepax’s ability to convey complex emotions and expressions through simple, high contrast black and white line art is unparalleled:
His figure drawing is also top tier. Guido Crepax’s wife was the visual reference for Valentina throughout the comic’s lifespan, which I think is very cute.
Fantagraphics has a lot of Guido Crepax’s collected works available for sale in deluxe, high quality format. Please be warned, though, I’ve chosen very PG-13/R Rated images here, but a lot of his work is X rated and may be too extreme for some readers. All of his work is intended for adults only, obviously.
I also take some inspiration from the mysterious and sapphic paintings of Tamara De Lempicka. All that’s not being said says it all.
For those who have asked, The Phantom Pleasure Merch is now available through VAPOR95. I’m incredibly honored by this, and extremely grateful to them. Here is a small sample of the line:
They are a fantastic label, and produce high quality clothing, phone cases, items for the home and a lot more. Amazing designs and art, great people, I wear their stuff often. If you’re in LA, you can visit their store downtown. Also, if you get any of these, please feel free to let me know.
I will be in Las Vegas for The Grammy Awards. I am one of the artists nominated for the the deluxe album (Trapper Keeper style vinyl record packaging) for Color Theory by Soccer Mommy. I was the art director on that project. Win or lose, all glory goes to Sophie and the Soccer Mommy team, without them none of this would have happened. They are lovely people, it was a pleasure to work with them, and I hope they continue to find success and happiness through their art.
Soccer Mommy has a new album coming out later in the year. It’s called, ‘Sometimes, Forever’. You can listen to the first single, Shotgun right now.
There is a music project in the works for The Phantom Pleasure, but I don’t want to announce it just yet. I’m extremely excited about it, though! Since I’m speaking on and on about music, here is a short playlist of what I’ve been listening to lately:
Yoshitaka Azuma - Azuma (Stained Glass is such a strange and beautiful song)
If you all enjoy these newsletters, I’ll keep doing them in between episodes. Thank you to my subscribers, please spread the work about my work if you want to. I greatly appreciate it.