Fourth of July holiday weekend 2011 kicks off with a bang, as Mark Todd presents his love of comic book abstraction at the La Luz de Jesus gallery July 1. Mark’s latest is entitled, “Force Field” and features a well-constructed array of experimental compositions that pay homage to the Silver Age of Comics and his love of boyhood explosives. The exhibit’s centerpiece, “Power Fury,” is a dimensional fireworks display, complete with artistic firepower.
Mark Todd, originally from Las Vegas, began creating comics in his bedroom at an early age and has never stopped. In fact, you can see many of Mark’s characters reintroduced in his works today. And among the nostalgia, hammering of nails, painting and perfecting the show Mark took time out to answer a couple of questions.
mM : Did you play with fireworks as a kid, growing up in Las Vegas? Any stories?
MarkTodd : Here’s a story for you...The Fourth of July was a really big deal for me and my friends. My best friend's Dad was a Vietnam Vet and would stockpile hundreds of illegal fireworks throughout the year. He would spend thousands of dollars on fireworks each year. He worked for a sand and gravel company and on the 4th we would all convoy out to the middle of the Vegas desert where the gravel company had mountains of sand and dirt. All the kids would take to the sand piles and all hell would break loose. Bottle rockets would be whizzing by, m-80's, jumpingjacks, even stadium explosives would be going off over our heads. By midnight there would be small brush fires cropping up and then this huge explosion from a stick of "dynamite" that someone had brought—lit with a delayed fuse, of course.
We all slept on the dirt hills or in the trucks we drove out. In the morning we would wake, crusty and sore and clean ourselves up by blowing off the dirt with an air compressor hose. You know, the ones that the tractors, trucks and heavy machinery used at the site. Once we all jumped into the scooper of a bulldozer, and were raised up in it while the driver powered over sticker bushes and boulders. Insane…!
mM: What inspired you to create your own fireworks stand “Power Fury”, complimenting your new exhibition happening at La Luz de Jesus July 1?
MarkTodd : Growing up in Vegas, these plywood firework stand would pop up overnight on every other corner. When I grew up there was still a lot of open desert, things in development. You could still ride your bikes around town and find jumps, forts, lizards and snakes. The stands would usually be on a corner of an undeveloped lot, selling overpriced legal fireworks. But if you drove out of town, past the county line you could find the good stuff—bottle rockets, roman candles, things like that. I’ve wanted to build a fireworks stand for along time. It just seemed like a great canvas to be creative with. All the colors, the names, the childhood memories.
The name “Powerfury” came from an Iron Man cover. "The power and the fury". Recently, I had a show in NYand decided to combine the words to create a new word that conjured up something strong and maybe a bit threatening. But like a lot of my work, what you see is not always what you get. There’s humor there. I kind of like the idea of something that takes its self too seriously, appears tough but when you look closer you see more to it, you see the sad ghosts, the pinks and all that.
mM : Please describe your approach to Force Field, your upcoming show at La Luz de Jesus.
Mark Todd : For this show I am continuing the exploration of altered comic book imagery. Mostly from the marvel silver age although some pieces stray from that. There will be new paintings and works on paper ranging in scale from comic book size to large works over 60". A free-standing 6 foot wide fireworks stand will be the ancho. I have never created a 3-d piece this large or with so much detail and feel that it’s probably my strongest work to date.
mM : Did you focus on a specific issue of comic for this show?
Mark Todd : There’s a lot of Spider-Man in this show. I really got into using the web patterns and liked how he has no facial features. For this show, a distorted spider-man face came through in a lot of the pieces. Works seem to be a bit more "melted" —more drips, neon colors in contrast with a stark paint pallette.
mM : Any new books in the works?
Mark Todd: My latest book is called "Superuseless Superpowers." It was a lot of fun to work on. I didn't write it.
And I have a brand new website dedicated to my gallery work— powerfury.com. It’s a collection of all the reinvented comic pieces i have done thus far—over 125 pieces.
Fun interview and thanks to Mark Todd exhibiting “Force Field” at La Luz de Jesus July 1 through July 31 featuring drawings, paintings and a 6’ installation. You can see the entire show in person by heading over to 4633 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles. And you can see a new painting in the “Lucid Dreams” exhibition this summer, as well as check out Mark Todd and Esther Pearl Watson at booth No. 4833 at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego. Enjoy your holiday weekend.