In a moment of rash impulsiveness last year that he’s surely regretted ever since, Robin asked whether I’d be interested in guest-hosting some episodes for Inkstuds. We bandied about names and one of the first we settled on was Michael DeForge. Michael’s been interviewed on Inkstuds twice previously -in 2010, and then 2012, and Robin’s hope was that my approach would be different enough to provide a fresh and interesting perspective. I don’t think the resulting chat is *quite* that…
But the reason I wanted to interview Michael wasn’t necessarily because there’s new things to say and glean about his work, but because he’s one of a handful of cartoonists operating at a level of astonishingly consistent excellency. He’s also rather prolific, and conversely those two aspects can often come together and lead to a sense of flat expectation, of taking things for granted. In comics, more so than any medium -and maybe, too, it’s a symptom of the volume and quality of work on offer today- we’re eager to move on to the next thing: looking forward at the expense of engagement and being present. Look, I’m not saying he’s under-appreciated (as such), but that it’s difficult sometimes, when you’re in the midst of a thing, to recognise it for what it is.
Like many people, I anticipate a new DeForge work, but then I put off reading it until I’m sufficiently geared up to do so because of how much it moves me. Art provides us with varying emotions/reactions; my personal preference for it is to elicit joy and affirmation, enrichment and strength. Michael’s work fulfills the latter quotient in a way that’s acutely resonant. Colours and lines thrum and question. Shapes bulb and pulse. Tendrils weave and synapses spark. It makes me anxious and tense and restless, and yet it’s so gnawingly beautiful -shouldn’t the effect of beauty be the opposite of those things? I don’t always get it, but I get from it. And that’s enough, and then some.
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