Mark Todd is a Juggernaut + Interview

"King-Size Special" : Acrylic and cel-vinyl on panel : 33.75" x 51.25" : detail

The first artist interview of 2010 features Mark Todd, based in Pasadena, he is getting ready to introduce his new exhibition, “JUGGERNAUT,” featured at the Billy Shire Fine Art Gallery and opening January 16 with the great talent of Owen Smith.

"Mystery Four" : Mixed media collage on comic book : 6.75" x 10.25"

Mark has been a great friend, collaborator and featured artist in various Murphy publications, projects and exhibitions over the past 12 years. Mark Todd is an avid promoter of the arts, who works in partnership with his wife, Esther Pearl Watson, painting, drawing, teaching, authoring and curating the famed Post-It show at Giant Robot, (featuring over 1000 bad ass Post-It sized art pieces).

"Double Issue" : Mixed media on comic books : 6.75" x 10.25"(x 2) framed together

Mark Todd was first inspired to become an artist through his love of comic books and adventure movies as a kid growing up in Las Vegas. Thankfully, Mark’s love of superheroes and their villains have been assembled over an impressive body of work since his art career began. Mark describes, “My pieces blend images, words, and iconography—and are vividly action-packed and cleanly minimal featuring classic ‘Silver Age’ comic book covers—the subject matter of my forthcoming show ‘JUGGERNAUT: New Paintings and Collage Works on Paper.’”

JUGGERNAUT looks to be a complete collection featuring painting, drawing and collage on a mix of small to large paintings. The colors rich and the visual narrative dynamic, mimicking the action you would expect in a superhero entanglement.

"Purple Cloth (Hulk)" : Acrylic and cel-vinyl on panel : 13.5" x 20.25"

Mark writes, “Every work is proportioned to have the precise aspect ratio of a comic book, measuring 6 ¾.” x 10 ¼.”” With his nod to authentic scale, (for small drawings and collage assemblages), Mark celebrates the invaluable influence of comics in today’s pop culture. In the exhibit’s larger pieces, 40 ½.” X 61 ½.,” assembled as diptychs, Mark interprets the Pop Art movement initiated in the 1950s. He works in his personal and stylized visions of superhero characters who find themselves swallowed up within a world of neon color.

"Gate To The Cemetery" : Mixed media on panel : 20.25" x 30.75"

You can check out the entire “JUGGERNAUT” exhibition at the Billy Shire Fine Arts Gallery in Culver City, CA on Saturday, January 16 from 7pm to 10 pm. Also on view will be Owen Smith, another great painter who has not shown for a couple of years. Should be a great one, click here for all of the details. And click here for all acquisition information.


mm : what is the main concept behind your latest body of work, “JUGGERNAUT,” to be featured this month?

M TODD : I have been exploring the deconstruction of comic covers for a while now. like many kids, I grew up reading superhero comics and learned to draw by copying them. I would try to re-create the dynamic forms, the stories by creating my own characters.

"Avengers Frenzy" : Acrylic and cel-vinyl on panel : 27" x 41"

mm : (Juggernaut is a large team of kind folks working together or a metaphorical force regarded unstoppable :) Can you tell us more?

M TODD : I like the implications of a word like juggernaut. It can mean different meanings for different people. For those who know comics, they will most likely recall the “hard headed” foe from X-Men comics. The dictionary definition refers to something large, powerful and destructive. Many of my pieces in the show are over-sized, obsessive, bright and bold.

"Wrath Warrior" : Mixed media on panel : 27" x 41"

mm : Is your current collection unstoppable and who is featured in your latest line up?

M TODD : For the most part Marvel characters are featured. X-men, Avengers, Thor, Captain America…The Fantastic Four seem to be the dominant force. Nearly all the works were originally based and inspired from the “Silver Age” Kirby covers mostly. To me, his work was so incredibly strong, it just blows all the other comic artists away.

The works for this show are larger in scale than in previous shows I’ve had. A few of the collage pieces include actual comic book surfaces. I have never done that before, bringing the actual source material into the art. There are also a few diptyches, something new for me. For this show, I was consciously thinking more about the meaning of the work and not just creating a group of pretty pictures.

"King-Size Special" : Acrylic and cel-vinyl on panel : 33.75" x 51.25" : detail

mm : What superhero character(s) are your favorites these days? Who is the most fun to paint?

M TODD : Mr. Fantastic. Who can resist those stretchy arms? And the Thing. I like painting abstracted rocks.

mm : Do you alter the “known” personalities of the superheroes you represent or do you keep them true to their original persona?

M TODD : That’s a good question. I think they change. Their persona kind of just oozes out of them while I work. At times, I intentionally give a character an emotion, a melancholy or glassy eyed look. Other times, I think back to how I felt about the characters when I was a kid. How I saw them. Sometimes as fatherly, or brotherly, or sad, or stupid.

"Crossover" : Mixed media on two panels : 91" x 61.5"

mm : What is a stand out painting in this collection? How would you describe its subject matter or composition.

M TODD : That’s tough. I feel good about a lot of them. There are 22 pieces featured. 3 or 4 are key pieces. I suppose the 2 anchor pieces, the largest works in the show, are "King-Size Annual 3" and "Crossover," diptych that measures over seven feet. Both pieces use minimal color and rely heavily on line work. "King Size Annual" is packed full of characters. Obsessive. "Crossover," probably 4 times larger, is simpler and loose. They were each painted within weeks of each other. "Crossover" developed quickly. I worked 12 hours straight on it. I didn't want to stop or lose momentum when I first got started. For many of the pieces in the show I was alone in the studio. My family had left on a road trip, leaving me alone to think and work. I didn't leave the studio for nearly a week at one point.

Pop Art is revised and Mark Todd has a clear vision. Check out his latest exhibition in person at the Billy Shire Fine Arts Gallery in Culver City, CA (great space and great friends, maybe Martha Rich will taxi cab it on over from Philadelphia. You never know who will show up at these events. Super kind thanks to Mark Todd for taking a big chunk of time out to interview, write and share the goodness. I am looking forward to the show. To preview the entire show and to access acquisition information, please click here.

"Reduction/Revision" : Mixed media on paper with comic book : 24" x 43"

You can learn more about Mark Todd by visiting his website, directly by taking a class at Art Center where he teaches with his wife, or learning from his books “Whatcha Mean, What’s A Zine” (Houghton Mifflin) and “Bad Asses” (Blue Q). Sweet deal and thanks for supporting the arts.

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