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Graduate’s illustrations on display in Cincinnati

Roxanna Blevins

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PAC Gallery in Cincinnati is currently featuring Dream Logic, an exhibit with art from comic book artist David Mack’s series of art books, of the same name. In addition to art originals from the Dream Logic series, art from Mack’s work on the comic book series Daredevil, and his own series, Kabuki, is on display as part of the exhibit.

Mack, who is a native of Cincinnati, created the comic book series Kabuki while pursuing a BFA in Graphic Design at NKU. Since then, he has continued the Kabuki series, and has also written, illustrated, and painted for various comic book series’, including Alias, Daredevil, and Justice League of America.

Surrounded by his art work at PAC Gallery, Mack talked about who he is influenced by, how his experiences in college helped shape his career, and what he’s working on now.

How have your studies at NKU benefited you in your career?
The general studies definitely helped. I took Japanese, which contributed a lot to Kabuki. Understanding the mythology and history helped to tell personal stories by creating this character of a different gender, from a different country. A good thing about having gone to a university, as opposed to a specialized art school is that I was able to take classes like science, literature, and history. I was exposed to a lot of ideas. NKU is full of vast resources.

You wrote and illustrated Kabuki. What are some challenges and benefits of doing both as opposed to just one or the other?
I wrote Kabuki while I was still in college. I originally intended to only write it. I was looking for people to illustrate it, and I found some really good artists, but nothing worked out. There was a distance between the story and the art work. Then one day, I just starting drawing, and I was able to bring the two together.

You studied Children’s Literature at NKU. Would you say that led to your interest in writing children’s stories, or did your interest and the knowledge feed off each other?
It definitely built on what I did at NKU. I took a Children’s Literature class, taught by Jenny Smith, and she gave me the option for one assignment to write a children’s story. That was how I wound up writing My Invisible Friend.

You created a children’s story called The Shy Creatures, which is featured in Kabuki. The Shy Creatures is its own story, but it was originally part of the Kabuki series?
It did originally come from Kabuki. It’s kind of a retelling of Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland. It’s the story of a childhood consciousness evolving into adult consciousness. It’s like when Alice is on the chess board, she’s a pawn, which is the most powerless piece. However, if the pawn reaches the other end of the board, it becomes a queen.

Who are you influenced by in the art that you create?
My primary artistic influence, above all, is probably my mother. She was the biggest influence on me in my earliest, formative years, when my brain was being hardwired…She was a first grade teacher, and so she was my introduction to drawing and making things. I would see her making her lesson plan for her students, and making things three dimensionally, and making large things to show them their colors, and numbers, and words, and alphabet, and she would do them colorfully…I would see her doing all these mixed media things. I didn’t necessarily think of it as mixed media; I just saw there was a lot of stuff, and you could make stuff with it. But it taught me that art is a means of communication and education…I probably am heavily influenced by Picasso, and Gustav Klimt. Gustav Klimt and Ego Schiele probably more with their figure of work, with how they draw quick lines of figures, and Picasso probably because I like that he was a master of so many kinds of media, and because I think the cubism he did is very related to comic books.

Aside from influences, such as your mother, or famous artists, did you have any mentors or professors who really influenced you when you were in school?
Yeah, when I was in high school, I had an art teacher named Tamara Smith…It was helpful just to have an adult take your ideas seriously. That goes a long way when you’re a kid…And I did have some really helpful teachers at NKU. There was a teacher whose name was Kevin Booher; he was my drawing teacher, and in fact before I ever went to NKU, I stopped by to look at the school. He was teaching in the summer, and he invited me to go to his class as much as I wanted to in the summer. I had a couple classes of his while I was there, too, and he was a very encouraging drawing teacher. There was teacher I had for sculpting class, whose name was Stephen Finke; he was very helpful. But I got my BFA in graphic design; I had to take all the design classes, and that included all the fine arts classes. There was a graphic design instructor named Steven McCarthy, and in his classes, it was very helpful because it taught me a very well rounded sensitivity to type, which I hadn’t thought about much before…For literature, I did an independent study senior year, and I had a professor named Margaret Jang, and it was in her class that she allowed me to do the first Kabuki book.

What inspired the Dream Logic art work?
Dream Logic is the title of a book I started doing recently. I felt like it’s a book that included the analytical and the whimsical, the dreamy and imaginative with the craft, and I felt like that would make a good name for the show as a whole.

The idea of “dream logic” seems like two opposites coming together. What exactly does the title mean?
I liked that it’s both analytical and whimsical. You have an idea, and it doesn’t exist anywhere, except in your head,. Then, you write it down on a piece of paper, and suddenly it exists in a three dimensional, material world. And I like that idea. Boiled down to its simplest form, I think, that’s what art is…so you can dream it, but then if you can communicate it articulately, other people can follow it too, and they can experience it also.

Dream Logic is a series of four art books, but only the first two have been released. Is the art at PAC from all four of the books, or just the first two?
The art is mostly from Kabuki and Daredevil. There is also some Dream Logic work, and other art I’ve been dabbling in. The third Dream Logic book is coming out in a week or two, and the fourth one will be out in a couple months.

Aside from Dream Logic, what else have you been working on lately?
I just finished a Dexter project [based on the TV series]. I’ve painted covers for DC and Marvel comics; I’ve been doing Justice League of America lately. I’m co-writing a new Daredevil story. I might also be working on some more autobiographical stuff, as well.

The Dream Logic exhibit will be on display at PAC Gallery through Feb. 26. PAC Gallery is located at 2540 Woodburn Avenue, in Cincinnati. The gallery is open between 12 and 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, as well as by appointment. For more information about PAC or the Dream Logic exhibit, go to the gallery’s website, at http://pacgallery.net/PAC_Gallery/PAC_Gallery.html, or check out their Facebook page. For information about Mack, visit his Facebook page, or go to http://davidmackguide.com.
Story by Roxanna Blevins

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Graduate’s illustrations on display in Cincinnati