The Comics Journal recently posted their review of Dave Cooper’s new book, “Mudbite,” which they described as “abject fantasias of intense sexual anxiety rendered in Cooper’s compellingly repellent style.” I think that about sums it up.
I’m fascinated by Cooper because he’s part of a new wave of artists who don’t inhabit a singular defined space. Cooper isn’t a “comic artist” as that phrase is usually applied. He doesn’t make either serials or graphic novels. His books are sexual surrealism stretched in time.
Nor is he a “fine artist” who slums it to make comic books. Just as Ta-Nehisi Coates used his recent MacArthur Fellowship not to write a sequel to “Between My Country and Me,” but instead to take a run on Black Panther, so Cooper not only produces comics, but also showcases paintings in galleries and it’s that depth of style — where his comics are not slimmer versions of his art but but fully realized and executed visions themselves — that makes his work so compelling.
From the review: “Eddy Table is the obvious common denominator, but Cooper’s foils dominate here. These foils are giantesses, wobbly women of Amazonian proportions that readily recall R. Crumb’s phantasies or Otto Dix’s muses.” (See also Namio Harukawa, from an earlier post on this blog.)
“And yet the setting is all Eddy. Indeed, there’s no real separating the material world from the mental milieux in Mudbite. Cooper’s primary stage is the psychosphere. We’re in Eddy’s head the whole time, and Cooper uses this setting to show not only how our dreams can tip into nightmares, but also how our nightmares can enthrall us. We like to poke around in that horror sometimes, even as other impulses prompt us to flee.”
More of Cooper’s art: