If you read my review of C.J. Patterson and Jeremy Rogers’ Mondo Groovy issue one, you’ll recall that one of the things I appreciated most about that admittedly trashy — hell, deliberately trashy — comic was that it was totally un-pretentious and utterly lacking in both self-awareness, and awareness of the broader comics “scene” in general. And all of that goes double for its companion book, Mondo Groovy Horrorshow #1. And you kind of can’t help but tend to love this one, too.
Look, let’s be honest — normally a cartoonist has to be a fairly “known quantity” before they decide to try to monetize the contents of their old sketchbooks, but here’s Patterson, a fairly “unknown quantity” if ever there was one, doing it right the fuck now, before anybody has much of a clue who he is. Not because he seems particularly arrogant, mind you. Not because his material is something amazingly new and unique. No, he seems to be doing it because nobody told him that he couldn’t — and what could be more beautiful than that?
As far as the contents of the book itself go, they’re certainly nothing to be ashamed of — mainly composite illustrations of famous scenes from “B” movies mixed with portraits of horror luminaries such as George Romero and Joe Bob Briggs (who is now, for those not aware, pretty well crashing the entire horror community in his new role as leader of a cult of alt-right assholes), with a short “Mondo Groovy” strip in the middle co-written by partner-in-crime Rogers — but they’re also, and I say this with all due respect, nothing particularly different than what you’d find on any number of deviantart pages. Hell, for all I know, this might even be stuff that Patterson plucked from his own deviantart page. And while the comics aesthetes may be recoiling in shock at the sheer temerity of somebody packaging and selling their sketchbook stuff before they’re supposedly “in a position to do so,” I say — good on Patterson! There’s nothing quite like giving the middle finger to the self-appointed “elites” of the art world — and what’s doubly delicious is that it’s patently obvious he has no idea that’s what he’s doing here.
The art itself is of plenty decent quality, and while it’s pretty clearly all photo-referenced, the layouts of his various montages show a fairly keen eye for composition that he can proudly call his own. It’s not revelatory and/or groundbreaking by any means, but who the fuck cares? That’s hardly the point here — Patterson just wanted to do some cool drawings of a bunch of horror flicks that he likes, and see if he can make a few bucks at it while he’s at it. I’m not gonna begrudge him that, and if you do, then you need to get your head out of your ass. Everyone has the right to try to earn a living off their art.
That being said, honing his skills wouldn’t be a bad way for Patterson to give himself a better chance of doing that. The drawing in the short strip in this book has considerably more personality and panache than the art in the full-length MG comic, so he’s moving in the right direction, and rather than laugh at the occasional instances of pure amateurism, I encourage him to keep going in the direction he’s going. He’s developing a solid penchant for comical expression and doing more thorough work on his backgrounds, and it all looks pretty damn good, if not wholly original — but who is? I wouldn’t call his cartooning great, but I would call it inherently fun, and that’s precisely what it’s trying to be.
So, yeah, I’d still consider Patterson to be a horror fan first and foremost (I don’t think he’d take that as an insult), and a cartoonist second, but if he keeps at it, that equation could be reversed. I’m looking forward to keeping an eye on his work and seeing where it goes.
Mondo Groovy Horrorshow #1 is available for $6.00 from C.J. Patterson’s Big Cartel shop at https://mondogroovybooty.bigcartel.com/product/mondo-groovy-horrorshow-1
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