Friday, January 28, 2011

Cosmic Horror - Human Vision: The Art of Mike Dubisch Seeps Into Burbank, California February 1st -15th

Before I loved Lovecraft, I loved comic books.  And before I loved comic books, I loved Dungeons & Dragons.

I reveled in the images and situations it conjured up in my young, searching mind - images it forced ME to conjure, as if a barely willing apprentice unsure in his craft.  Looking back, it was the first true creative storytelling that I ever undertook, outside of fibbing to my mother about where I was all day, and why my mouth was missing a tooth and my bike most of its spokes.

Alone in my room or around a giddy, soda-stained gaming table, I'd drift for hours in waking dreams, striding the fantastical, endless world organized - but certainly not solely created - by Gary Gygax, marveling at the possibility of infinite realms where anything weird, wonderful, and horrify was possible.  I'd ruminate on the low violence of high fantasy.  Spare with the gods and monsters.  Taste the steel, sweat and sulphur of sword, and of sorcery. It was my cloak against the mundane regular world.  It was imagination personified.

Fortunately, these reveries were fed by the plethora of artwork that accompanied the first wave of D&D in the late 1970's.  The Monsters Manual.  The Tomb of Horrors.  Dragon Magazine.  Man alive, Dragon Magazine... (deep sigh).  It ALWAYS had the most amazing covers, with all the best fantasy artists, including icons like Boris and, of course, the Grand Master Frank Frazetta.  I'd stare at these covers for hours, wondering what was around the next bend in the landscape, wishing it were all real...

I'd like to think that Mike Dubisch grew up the same way, imagining and dreaming from the same fuel, peering into shapeless vistas and giving them form and purpose and monstrous intent.  Judging by the subject matter, range, and enthusiasm of his artwork, I might be on to something.  Take a look...

I first met Mike Dubisch at the 1st Annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival last September.  We (and renowned Perilous Press author Cody Goodfellow, who was just named by Ellen Datlow as one of the Best Horror Writers of 2010, along with fellow Cosmicomicon friends Joseph S. Pulver and Wilum Pugmire, among others) spent several minutes chatting about the the past, present, and future of Lovecraftian/Mythosian/Weirdish art, literature, and film.  I must say that I enjoyed it thoroughly, especially as it was one of the first interviews I conducted that day, on assignment for (home to all things Call of Cthulhu, and the best and most active Lovecraftian message on the net).

Just four short months later (has it really only been that long?), I'm taking time out of my Friday night to wrestle with blogspot to vigorously pimp his latest show, thankfully dropped on earth at the Hyaena Gallery, just mere miles from Cosmicomicon HQ, as the raven flies.  I do this because he's that good.  His work is that cool.  

Instead of blathering on, I'll post some of his work, and you be the judge.  Mike's most recent work is the Black Velvet Necronomicon, which goes a little something like this.

Mike's show at the Hyaena Gallery opens on February 1st, 2011, and runs through February 15th.  Opening Reception is Saturday, February 5th, from 8 pm til the witching hour.  That's where I'll be.
Artist Mike Dubisch has been making waves in the world of H.P.Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos fandom for the last few years. His art was featured at the H.P.Lovecraft Film Festivals in Portland Oregon and LA.

His drawings and paintings of dark fantasy have appeared in numerous publications for Star Wars, Dungeons & Dragons, IDW, and Aliens VS Predator. His painting for Mythos magazine "Strange Aeons" Holiday issue was chosen for inclusion in the Frank Frazetta Tribute Exhibition in march, honoring the late grand master of fantasy illustration.

Dubisch will present an assortment of recent horror, mythos and monster based art, all with his unique sympathetic approach, finding a beautiful elegance, personality and deeper meaning in the genre of horror fantasy art.


  1. Ted, you knew I would be reading this, didn't you? Reading over the post I had several 'me too' moments. You pretty much summed up my youth in a nutshell. And what a wonderfully escapist youth it was!

    Mike is a very talented guy. I have been haunting his blog and Facebook galleries these past few weeks taking in all his morbidly amazing work. I only wish I could afford to have him illustrate some of the gaming projects I have in the works right now.

  2. I batted this right down Mangus Lane, to be sure.

    And yeah, I wouldn't trade my Gygaxian childhood for anything. D&D flavored almost everything I did, read, and explored as a lad, and I credit it for offering a foundation for my writing career, and all around interest in fantasy, which... well, is the foundation for my writing career. :)

    Mike is doing so much great stuff right now, for all the right genres, from high fantasy to Mythos - all firmly ensconced in my geek-out wheel house.

    As for affording Mike, he's truly one of the best, but I think you'd be surprised at what can be worked out. We're all In This together, and I've found in the past few months that getting seemingly unattainable artists to contribute to your work is sometimes quite possible. Give him a shout... See what happens. Based on his background and talent, he'd be obscenely perfect for Sword & Sanity Roleplaying.

  3. After more than 10 years I finally donated my Players Handbook, Monster Manual, Deities and Demigods, DM Guide and all. I have regretted that ever since.

    The Pathfinder books have artwork that tugs at my mind now much as those books did back in my youth.

    Mike's stuff is amazing. So much talent fails to get deserved credit due to the mediums they work in... he deserves every word of praise you wrote here, Ted.

  4. Cool, Eric, and welcome, my friend!

    Yeah, what I wouldn't GIVE for my original AD&D books from back in the day (or the original D&D 1st Edition boxed set). Actually, I think my little brother might still have them somewhere back on the High Plains.

    I could page through those tomes for hours and hours. Thank God that Pong only existed when I first discovered D&D. Kids these days (BAH! Get off my lawn!) don't allow themselves the time to expand their minds, as video games now do that for them.

    Poor little bastards. They don't know what they're doing to themselves.

  5. Hey Ted, thanks for the great post- You are indeed onto something; While I never gamed, I loved the grimoire like mystique of the gaming manuals, not only the art, but those neat snippets of prose unique to the RPG.

  6. I tried to "Like" your post, Mike, but then realized that we're not on Facebook. :)