There are over 50 different artists featured in Maximum Rock N' Roll's comics and art issue and nearly all contributed a one pager or less. Some of them are dumb gags, some are violet surreal short comics, most are one page illustrations that look like notebook doodles or flyers not advertising any particular show.
Alexander Heir turns in one of the strongest pieces - not particularly different from things he's drawn before. He returns to the same well repeatedly with his art: police brutality, Russian-tattoo influenced stippling, skulls, exposed lizard skin, etc. There isn't anything subtle or particularly nuanced about his artwork, but art that is rooted in a punk tradition and then pulls in an occasional fine art influence is cool. Specifically I’m thinking of how the vertical lettering on this piece recalls Peter Saul which makes sense as political comparison as well. Usually art goes the other way - dipping into punk rock or comics when it’s convenient. When it starts in the world of comics or punk and successfully references fine art without betraying a sense of inferiority, I can’t help but get excited.
|Art by Alex Heir|
|Art by Heather Benjamin|
The biggest problem with the issue overall is that unless the artist signed their name or you are already familiar with their art, there is no practical way to determine who did what in here. The table of contents is a giant unwieldy list of artists without any page numbers to help you out. MRR would have you believe that tables of contents and page numbers are as antithetical to punk rock as bar codes, but this is particularly non-user friendly. It doesn’t interfere with the reading experience though, it just makes it harder to write about. And if you are interested in the artists featured there you can go to MRR's website which has bios and interviews with most of the artists.
This issue came out in April and the April Fools' gag was that MRR would be turning away from bands and focusing on comics and art because "cartoonists and artists, like writers, are the true outsiders of today's punk scene, working alone in their room for days on end, with little to no fanfare. They don't need an audience to validate their existence, hence they are the deal deal, the real underground, hard-working, underestimated heroes and heroines of punk." This is written tongue-in-cheek, but I wish it weren't.