Almost ten years ago, Jensen Karp (aka: cult rapper “Hot Carl”) and Katie Cromwell opened a little pop-art gallery in Los Angeles. In an effort to “exhibit affordable artwork, display artists who focused on pop culture similar to the feelings” they shared, Gallery 1988 opened with little to no fanfare. Today, the gallery hosts many events, including the annual exhibit conceived by Scott Mosier and Kevin Smith called Crazy 4 Cult. Finally, artists focused on fandom’s loyal interests in things like TV, movies, video games, music, and literature have a place to express their talents. In the same mold as Amazing Stories founder Hugo Gernsback, who aspired to put fandom “back within easy reach” of the fans, enthusiasts like us have an opportunity to enjoy the art right at our fingertips.
Crazy 4 Cult: Cult Movie Art 2 by Gallery 1988 is the second anthology from Titan Books comprised of work appearing in the Crazy 4 Cult shows (the first Crazy 4 Cult: Cult Movie Art was released in June, 2011). This book is a 176 page journey through the tremendous artwork one would find while walking through the show. The obvious difference being you can attend the event while reclined in your comfy chair.
The cover illustration shows the acrylic ink on paper (don’t know what this means, but that’s how it is billed in the book) called “Descent into Madness” by artist N.C. Winters. Stanley Kubrick’s version of Stephen King’s horror classic The Shining has become an iconic depiction of madness in pop culture. Sure, everyone recognizes the scene of Jack Nicholson squeezing his crazed face through the crack of a door (especially writers who feel like they could snap just as easily). But Winters’ painting shows a more diabolical image of the writer with piercing eyes looking out from an artistic floral explosion. It’s as if the emergence of the writer’s creativity is drawing out the supernatural presence within. Oh wait, that still sounds like The Shining.
One of the more telling illustrations in the book is the very first image you see on the title page, Jason Edmiston’s “Robocabbie.” Okay, Robocop is exiting a New York taxi cab, but loyal fans from the Detroit area will point out the oddity in this because “everybody” knows that Murphy was a Detroit police officer. At first, I thought this was a trap, and the image of Admiral Ackbar didn’t help matters, but upon closer examination I realized it was just a vibrant collage of images from a wide range of cult film classics, some more obvious than others, you will find images from Tron, Ghostbusters, Star Wars, Alien, Army of Darkness, King Kong, and Back to the Future, just to name a few. This is the perfect illustration for the reader to know what he or she will find within the pages of the book.
Crazy 4 Cult: Cult Movie Art 2 by Gallery 1988 is an easy and inexpensive way to own artwork representing our favorite memories of fandom. If you never make it to the Gallery 1988 location, it does not mean you can’t enjoy the vast array of culture one would find there. But for the more enthusiastic fan, a lot of the artwork within the pages is still available for order from Gallery 1988. So, this is not just a coffee table book, it is a shopping list of affordable art. And the only requirement of the reader is to enjoy it.