INTERVIEW WITH MONTREAL UNDERGROUND CARTOONIST MISTER SWIZ! LITTLE GIRL ON A BLACK SOFA (HANS BELMER)! GASHES EVOLVED, CRACKPOT REVOLVED & EARDRUMS DISSOLVED LAST THURSDAY AT BARFLY! MYSTERY OF THE WHOOPEE-CUSHION CARTOON!
All contents © 2000-2001, Rick Trembles
UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION STRICTLY FORBIDDEN
December 28, 2000
INTERVIEW WITH MONTREAL UNDERGROUND CARTOONIST MISTER SWIZ! (Image ©1999 Mister Swiz, from SWIZLAND #001)
Mister Swiz has been on the Montreal comix scene for a couple years now self-publishing a variety of minis & midis. You can occasionally see his inimitable artwork adorning various band posters littering the city walls. Swiz's bold, vibrant, B&W line-art weaves in & out like elaborate, mesmerizing tapestries, reminiscent of Aztec art. I collaborated with him in Swizland #001 w/a tit-for-tat script about a mad scientist's invention, the "Toiletron 2000," that can impale unsuspecting sitting-duck sphincters straight out the pie-hole (the scientist gets poetic justice comeuppance licking a giant icicle dangling from a church roof that breaks off & impales him from his mouth to his poop-chute). Swiz's rendition was dizzying.
SNUBDOM: How old are you & when did you start drawing comix?
MR. SWIZ: Right now, I'm 21 & I've always drawn since I was a little kid. But I started being somehow "serious" about it at 20, when I started publishing collective fanzines along with "the Montreal scene." I've since lost interest in publishing other people's work... So I'm all by myself in my "Swizland."
SNUBDOM: What on earth made you decide to become a "Montreal" cartoonist? (It couldn't have been the money)
MR. SWIZ: By seeing incredible stuff, like Henriette Valium, Trembles, Mavreas; some pretty fucked up stories & drawings. Also when I discovered there's a whole scene of "cartoonists" that have each their own drawing style & atmosphere, though some are really naÔve, I just told myself, "Hey, I wanna write & draw weird stories too!"
SNUBDOM: You've settled on a very distinct rock-solid style. I'm curious, did it evolve out of something else? For instance, have you ever done any life drawing? Have you ever formally studied?
MR. SWIZ: I did a few paintings (all of which I've already sold), but it's still "Swizish"... I'm not really good or able to draw anything else than the style I've developed. I tried, but I can't even look at it... I never went to Art School, but I studied French Letters (back in Trois-Rivieres from 1993 to 1995) & had a few art theory courses.
SNUBDOM: Do drugs play a role in your modus operandi & if so, how?
MR. SWIZ: Yes indeed, I smoke weed before drawing 'cuz it inspires me... I can't explain why but I just don't "feel like drawing" when I'm not "under the influence"... Should I compare myself to the "whiskey writers"? I don't wanna push too much in that direction. I don't condemn, neither do I promote drug use/abuse.
SNUBDOM: You told me the song "C'est Comme Ca" from your forthcoming ANOMALIES release was written & performed all by yourself, is this true? It sounds "live," how does one go about doing this? Tell me more about your musical career.
MR. SWIZ: I started playing music when I was 11, with guitar. I switched to bass after 2-3 years, took jazz & classical courses (not much, though) and I played in a few (mostly metal) bands before forming ANOMALIES in 1993, which has been my main band ever since. Back in the day, it was mostly a French-punk-rock outfit but it has evolved into "all I wanna play." On the forthcoming album, I'm alone, but for a few collaborators. And I play everything I wanna play, from ska-dub-ragga to grind-black-hardcore. There will be around 8 to 10 songs & it's due out by March 1st if everything goes well until then. It kinda "sounds live," although I use a rhythm-machine. I play most instruments (bass & guitars) by myself & have to sing too. I like what I've done so far, although it's a little bit "mainstream" music up to now. I'd like to sell a lot of this "mainstream crap" so I could do my thing, which is mostly for now, very heavy-influenced; like "THRASH-JAZZ-CORE-GRIND." My favorite bands these days are Cephalic Carnage, the Dillinger Escape Plan, Nasum, and most Relapse-recording artists... Mostly heavy stuff.
December 21, 2000
LITTLE GIRL ON A BLACK SOFA!
"It is said that a lecher undresses a woman that he likes with his eyes. Belmer goes further: with one glance he x-rays her, dissects her, performs an autopsy on her & puts her together again according to the laws of an exact science of desire." -Sarane Alexandrian, Hans Belmer, New York, Rizzoli International, 1975.
The book's in tatters now, having survived one dump after another over the 20 odd years I've owned it. And it's the one book I always make sure doesn't get lost in the shuffle whenever I move because I've never seen it for sale anywhere since & frankly, I haven't finished "reading" it. The images contained within are still intact, that's all that counts. My picture book on renowned German surrealist Hans Belmer (1902-1975) has fascinated & haunted me since the day I first slid it off my father's shelf as a kid & fumbled through what I thought were the most sexually explicit images my virginal eyeballs had ever seen. I found poring over Belmer's "Little Girl on a Black Sofa" (pictured above) particularly transgressive because I'd never seen images of genitalia before, let alone graphic descriptions of coital encounters. But Belmer had to go one further. He had me hypnotized not only with all of the aforementioned, but by exposing his transparent subjects' internal organs during the act as well. Rather than horrify, Belmer's pseudo-scientific hypotheses on what occurs internally during intercourse piqued my curiosity. I had no personal sexual experiences of my own to refer to for verification. But the obsessively detailed intensity of the pictures helped abate my testosterone fuelled angst somewhat over this fact. Everyone I knew seemed much better versed on the topic of sex than I was. After Belmer, I felt like I knew something other people didn't. As the "little girl" in question, sprawled out across Belmer's black couch, witnesses the unspeakable translucent act transpiring before her, she similarly bares all, down to the bone (musculature, small intestine, etcÖ) & not so inadvertently. Implicating her is the simple fact that she possesses internal organs for all to see as well. That only helped remind me that I possessed them too & that the gears were in motion whether I liked it or not. Belmer's transformation of the potentially traumatizing mysteries of sexual desire into biological function I found reassuring. Technically, the book still belongs to my old man, but it hasn't been available to him in 20 years because I can't finish deciphering it. Turns out the encounters I've had since then couldn't verify anything. They haven't been translucent enough.
December 14, 2000
GASHES EVOLVED, CRACKPOT REVOLVED & EARDRUMS DISSOLVED LAST THURSDAY AT BARFLY! (Photo of Crackpot singer/guitarist Chris Burns courtesy of the coin operated booth at the Sherbrooke metro)
Evolving before Montreal's very eyeballs every first Thursday of the month is Barfly house band DA BLOODY GASHES in a fury of blasphemes: "This song's called Turbo Fist-Fuck," belts out singer ChloŽ, writhing & moaning on all fours face-first into the grimy floor & who knows what they'll've blossomed into by next month is what's the beauty of seeing such shows consecutively. Per month renders the house band's gradual coagulation more incrementally perceptible than if it were weekly, so go get some before they've gelled glutinous 'cause it's a rare delicacy for the creative process to be allowed to so openly unravel haphazardly in your face & it'll/it'd be a bittersweet day when & if they ever settle down to familiarity. Last month they occasionally unintentionally (entertainingly) came apart at the seams but their latest offerings're coalescing into a streamlined, homespun guttural onslaught that's threatening to prove them the most compelling mishmash to blurt out our sleepy town. They jumped at the opportunity to be house band reading books like Legs McNeil's PLEASE KILL ME (about the secret origins of 70's NYC punk) on how influential "music scenes" germinated from unknown groups playing the same dive once a week or more developing devoted fan bases. Etched in my noggin is the song where ChloŽ yodeled in intervals, screeching so demented it was uncomfortable to watch (improv, suspects bassist/boyfriend Yanick) & drummer Katie's deceptively happy-go-lucky light touch on the drums that's a welcome antidote to the brute pomp that generally comes with rock posturing (then again, the band might've simply been drowning her out).
Opening band CRACKPOT came across strong with songs spiralling full of starts, stops 'n' breaks but whenever they'd pummel out pulse-pounding power-chords, the makeshift "sound" of The Barfly would turn their chainsawing into a blurry flurry of white noise with the only differentiation coming from the faint metronome tapping of a drowned out snare. But Barfly's a beerhole, not a philharmonic so it goes with the territory & depends where you're squatting/standing (I had a so-so spot tripping people trying to get into the can & blocking the waitress from the bar). But I'm partial to convolution & that they effortlessly can spew & often. Their calculated cacophony of indelicate delicateness recalls the likes of prime VOIDOIDS & other guitar-specific post-prog/pre-punk punk. Besides opening with a cover of DREAM SYNDICATE'S Then She Remembers, standouts included A Pleasant Walk, where 2nd guitar Simon (Steak 72) sings for a change, letting loose Chris to strangle tortured wails from his guitar, Hungry Like The Pig featuring Mike playing slide-bass with a beer bottle, & their anthem; I'm A Crack(pot)-Baby, harmonizing an infectious chorus of the same name. Speaking of white noise, I'm lucky I just bought a humidifier (ultra-dry electric heat's murder on the sinuses during these here Canadian winters). Its wet hissing helped lullaby me to sleep drowning out the drunken ringing in my ears thanks to CRACKPOT & THE GASHES.
December 7, 2000
MYSTERY OF THE WHOOPEE-CUSHION CARTOON! Illustrating the classic pink rubber fart-simulating machine, a rotund socialite sits down & emits "poo" sounds from smoky pre-comic book era speech balloons. The imprint looks like circa 1920's anonymous dirty eight-pager art & the lines are so broken it must've been doodled off in under a minute. She gets the attention of a bow-tied, cocktail wielding man nearby who's emitting a squiggley line depicting either noxious wooziness or cigarette smoke coming out his earhole & a miniature mutt's knocked on its butt by the potentially stinky lady. But what I wanna know is what the hell's going on in that painting on the wall? Within its ornate frame I detect the inklings of a cabin in the mountains. Or is it a giant duck poking out of a doghouse? Unchanged for over a half a century I'm sure, The Mystery of the Whoopee-Cushion Lady is suitable for either framing or sitting on. For a while I've been complaining how Montreal's been going down the tubes 'cause you can't even get a goddamn Joy-Buzzer when you need one anymore. Since I was a kid I used to fill all my Whoopee-Cushion, Fake Barf, Onion-Gum & Joy-Buzzer needs on St-Catherine east of St-Laurent but those stores are a thing of the past. They unceremoniously vanished years ago but little did I know there's been a joke shop under my nose all along, right across the street from the St-Henri metro. They offer not one, but TWO different kinds of Joy-Buzzers; a 2 buck standard & a 7 dollar extra-shock, ultra-spring-loaded deluxe model. For all you Christ-My-Ass shopaholics, what better way to stuff stockings than with a couple o' genuine Whoopee-Cushions? Xmas cheer? Bah, humbug! Merriment was meant to be spread with a Bronx cheer. Nothing says "jingle-bells" like a rubber fart-maker so call La Maison De La Magie (514) 931-1763 (the one with the clown picture in the window) to make sure what their hours are & go give this lonely store some bizniss! Don't let Montreal go down the tubes!