Artistic License

Blat issue 2 by Mat Greaves

Cover of Blat issue two, by Mat Greaves
Blat issue 2

You know how it goes. You are a deep and culturally attuned person. You love visual art, and comics is the pinnacle of that art. You follow a bunch of artists on their ‘socials’ and you find the same personality clashes, obsessions and weirdness (and flashes of genius) that you find in, well pretty much any other topic.

The art and the artist is the theme of Blat #2 from Mat Greaves. The type of social media nonsense I mentioned is very much the theme of ‘Disaster Artists’ – as a group of artists latch on to a disaster related hashtag to help launch their art careers. The portrayal of the illustrative vultures is unsympathetic, highly recognisable and hilarious.

Strip 'Oh Boy' by Mat Greaves from Blat issue 2
Oh Boy by Mat Greaves

Darker still are the misadventures of Patrick Mulligan, creator of newspaper gag strip The Mulligans. A horrifying experience leads to Mr Mulligan filling his strips with despair and gore. Cleverly the entire story is told largely in four panel segments reflecting the format of Mulligan’s work. I love what Mat did with the medium here, clever but also very funny.

These stories bring to mind the kind of darkly comic strip that Evan Dorkin is great at, or Seth’s reflections on the industry in the likes of Wimbledon Green. The strip ‘Oh Boy’ has an approach to the comic con scene that one might describe as cynical but enthusiastic with plenty of old school Fred Quimby cartoon chops. 

Strip Mulligan by Mat Greaves from Blat issue 2
Mulligan by Mat Greaves

Daniel Clowe’s legendary Art School Confidential is a touch stone for the next story ‘Art World’. This examination of appalling conceptual artist Hilary Dalglish, somewhat reminiscent of the likes of Tracey Emin, pulls no punches. It also demonstrates that you don’t need an NFT to sell ‘ownership’ of an idea or help out the money launderers.

After all that vitriol, the final strip ‘Gone Swimming’ seems like a jolly, positive tale. A familiar story of ageing mates getting the band back together, having fun and seeing what happens. Do some of them take it a bit more seriously than others, certainly more than their long suffering partners? Sure thing. But generally pretty wholesome stuff and a nice palate cleanser after the excesses of Ms. Dalglish.

Strip Gone Swimming from Blat issue 2 by Mat Greaves
Gone Swimming by Mat Greaves

There is a real diversity of art style in Blat and you will also find some very nice portraits in a variety of styles of the likes of David Hockney and Don Draper. Blat is an intelligent and very funny take on the theme of art. So, support your local artist I guess!


The book is now available to pre-order from Mat’s shop for £4, to be on released 25th May.

https://matgreaves.bigcartel.com/

After release, a PDF copy will also be available on his Gumroad for £2.

https://gumroad.com/matgreaves

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