Independent publisher IDW is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary and their current slate of releases says much about how far they’ve come as a company in terms of scope and overall variety. The steadily churned out comics based on licensed properties such as Transformers and G.I. Joe has been (and likely still is) their bread and butter. Yet in the last few years their titles have started to also include top-notch horror and sci-fi (The Ghoul and Starstruck), classic comic strip reprints (Little Orphan Annie and Bloom County), and art books.
Of all these I think the most unique releases are also the most diminutive: the 6×6 inch, beautifully printed, hardcover art book series Sparrow.
Each volume of these little 48 page beauties showcases a single artist who (in most cases) straddles the line between comic books and fantasy art and the current contemporary alternative art scene. In the Sparrow books you’ll find the work of those like Ashley Wood, Kent Williams, Phil Hale, Gelnn Barr, John Watkiss, Rick Berry, Jim Mahfood, and Camilla d’Errico. As outstanding as all these artists are I have to admit that the lifelong metal-head in myself has me the most excited for the recently released Sparrow #15 featuring the work of Brian Schroeder a.k.a. Pushead.
No matter what your taste in art (or music) I can guarantee, without a doubt, that you have seen the imagery of Pushead. His exceptionally detailed art is found on countless death imagery riddled designs produced for metal and punk bands, most famously Metallica and The Misfits. He was a premier artist for the skate magazine Thrasher in the 80’s and his work will forever grace the backside of innumerable skateboards. He has also designed tennis shoes, owns a record label (Pusmort Records), and fronted the briefly lived, but fondly remembered punk band Septic Death.
A book collecting his work is very long overdue making this volume of Sparrow all the more revelatory. The vivid art in this little tome almost threatens to leap of its pages as each new image is revealed. Pushead’s exceptionally precise line-work is combined with the extremely time-intensive technique of stippling to achieve mind-bending results.
Pushead’s art has always reminded me of the great fantasy and horror illustrators of the past like Virgil Finlay and Hannes Bok. I strongly believe that if Pushead was born fifty years earlier he would have been one of the top pulp illustrators of the day, contributing to magazines like Weird Tales and The Spider.
A more expansive look at the art of Pushead will hopefully arrive someday, but in the meantime this nifty, nearly pocket-sized book will satisfy anyone’s craving for intense, eye-popping, high energy-infused horror imagery. An absolute must for lovers of fantastic art, as are all of the books in the Sparrow series. Remember, styles come and go, but metal and punk are forever, so rock out with your cock out, and kick out the jams motherfuckers! Pushead forever!