Saturday, December 4, 2010

Entry 104: What Ever Happened To D.J. Bryant?

 A few months ago Mome 19 came out. It's an anthology book put out by Fantagraphics full of what you could call "alternative comics" by both new and established artist. And if you picked up #19 you were probably struck by one story in particular: A story inspired by Steve Ditko's "Driven to Destruction" called "Evelyn Dalton-Hoyt" by D.J. Bryant.

 It's a fantastic piece of work. The level of craft that DJ demonstrates in these 21 pages is amazing and humbling. It causes me to look at my own work and wonder, "what the hell am I doing?"

 Here's the first page.

 As you probably know, if you've been following my blog, DJ and I go way back. REALLY far back! We met when we were 12. He's my best friend. I hesitate to bring this up right now because I don't want my opinion on his work to seem biased. I'm recommending you pick up Mome 19 just for DJ's story and I want you to know that it's not because he's my friend. It's because it's really good. I would just as soon not bring up our friendship, but... how do I not bring that up? My friendship with DJ gives me insight into his work and him as a creator that I don't think anyone else could have.

I could tell you a lot about what inspired DJ in creating this story, and about his process and stuff like that. I could point out that every car in the story is based on a first generation Transformer. But that's not what I mean when I say that I have a unique insight.  First, as a fellow comic artist I can recognize the craft that is in the work. He has an incredible attention to detail; every article of clothing the characters wear, every prop, is thought out and works together to create his world. The thoughtful and creative story telling, even at it's most experimental, manages to always work for his story. I can also tell you, knowing DJ personally, that he's some kind of genius. There's a lot more where this story came from. He is thoughtful about his artistic choices, and he's very knowledgeable about the comic book medium. He has a large story-telling "vocabulary" and he uses it very well. 

I've been checking out reviews of this book around the internet and here are some of the things people are saying about DJ's story:

"The real prize here is DJ Bryant... It might be necessary to clear off the mantelpiece and yell at the moon for a little while, because now there's another reason to get a little bit ecstatic about comics for a moment."

"Mome’s editorial staff excavates some undiscovered diamond in the rough and this summer, they struck sequential art gold. D.J. Bryant’s vibrantly perverted take on “Driven to Destruction” is less an update and more a revisionist move... However, Bryant doesn’t rest on the dubious laurels of simple envelope-pushing; he is a startling talented draftsman who easily proves himself the equal of a Ditko homage."

"Hold onto your hats for the precipitous plunge that is the tale of "Evelyn Dalton-Hoyt."  Within this work's 21 tumultuous pages, author/artist, D.J. Bryant has penned a demonically deft deconstruction of "Driven to Destruction."

"D.J Bryant has some serious chops... A really impressive introduction to a talent I wasn't aware of."

"That D.J. Bryant story was the star of the show for me."

"Evelyn Dalton Holt’ by D.J. Bryant delivers a witheringly painful, sexually explicit neo-noir psycho-thriller that will delight all fans of hard-edged fiction."

"D.J. Bryant, whom I'd never read before, blew me away with "Evelyn Dalton-Hoyt", an appreciation of fear of death and emasculation that takes the form of a Lynchian crime/sex thriller. Bryant's drawing looks like a full-grown hybrid of Brian Bolland, Charles Burns, and Daniel Clowes; he'll be famous if he keeps doing this."

 I noticed that some reviewers mention how DJ has no presence on the internet. It's true. I suppose it only adds to his mystique. He did have a Live journal page a while back, some of you in LJ community might remember, called Snar-fled and Friends, but it's been almost 2 years since he posted on there. So where is he?

 Well, his computer crashed and he's only just recently been able to do anything about it. As I understand he'll be back up and running with an all new Live journal soon. Until then I strongly encourage you to go back and check out the Snar-fled site. There is a whole lot of goodness there.
 And once again: Lucy's Poetry Corner!

"LUCY'S Poetry Corner?" You ask. That's right. It's Lucy's corner now. I've been coming home to find these Poems on  the fridge and I've just been assuming that it was my fiancee, Lauren. When, in fact, it has been my 15 month old baby, Lucy. Which makes sense since Lauren works with kids and wouldn't even think up these dirty poems, much less allow me to post them on the world wide Internets. So, it's now Lucy's Poetry Corner. Apparently she forms these poems by complete chance by randomly sticking words together. Unbelievable! no?


  1. Thanks for sharing D.J's stuff. I really should check his story out. So were you artistic rivals in Jr. High( or middle school). I just find it interesting that you were best friends, when I was in school although I was friendly with the other artists I wasn't best friends with them or anything. I guess what I'm asking is how did the both of you being artists affect your friendship.

  2. I have DJ's lj on my friends list, I commented on that page when he posted it, I'm sad to see he hasn't been posting more.
    That said, a LJ with a handful of friends isn't the best pulpit to reach a big audience. There's probably better options...

  3. Thanks for posting this. I missed this issue of Mome & will definitely track it down now.
    Man, those are some erotically-charged pages. Page 1 gives off a great
    Steve Buscemi vibe as well.
    Re: What you said about your own work: "What the hell am I doing?"
    It seems for every (accomplished) artist there's the conflict between doing company-owned/mainstream work or satisfying one's more independent/non-mainstream impulses and tastes.
    As you're certainly aware, a quarterly anthology like Mome provides a completely different level of exposure than a monthly Marvel title like Shield.
    That can be significant in building an audience for future independent projects.
    Each also requires completely different skill sets. (And I'm not inferring that one is superior to the other. In my mind they're both art, and audiences make their choices once they're in the public forum.)
    I have little doubt that you've got some great independent - is that even the right word? - work to share with the world at some future time.
    But that in no way denigrates the (outstanding) work you're producing at present.
    That having been said, it's cool that you're so proud of your friend's work.
    These pages do appear to be the work of a major talent.
    I've been reading a collection of interviews with Woody Allen, & in one of them he states, "When I look at the pictures that Fellini or Bergman does, I wonder why I even bother?"
    And... I dig his movies so much, to me they're fantastic & I don't feel he has to be Fellini or Bergman.
    He's got his own niche that has evolved over time.
    My guess is that your motivations will lead you to do the same.

  4. This is a very good question, one that I've been thinking a lot about. I think DJ and I would have been good friends even if the art thing wasn't a factor. It's hard for me to say how our friendship would have gone without comics and art, but we share a lot in common beyond that. I know that we're competitive, but it's never something that we direct at each other. It really become a challenge to ourselves and in that way are friendship causes us to push ourselves. Also, we quickly became collaborators. We've created a lot of stuff together, stuff that someday I hope to get out there for you to see.

  5. I think DJ is like me in that nether of us is really trying to acquire a big audience through social networking. It seems to me to be a kind of trap to get caught up in that.
    And yeah, I hope DJ can get his new LJ going soon. I'll let you know when he does.

  6. So how did you meet? Were you both "the class artist" in school.

  7. This post reminds me of reading an interview with Daniel Clowes in the Comic Journal where he was saying that mainstream guys will buy his stuff. Its been awhile but it seemed like he was making fun of the mainstream or superhero artists through out the interview as well.

  8. There's a happy medium between being a media whore and hiding in the equivalent of an internet back alley...
    But I won't pretend I have the right answers either...

  9. DJ and I met in our very first class, English class I think, in 7th grade. I had a binder with a bunch of drawings that were copies of other artists work. That's almost all I was doing at that point, copying Jim Lee, Arthur Adams, Mark Texeira, and Berry Windsor Smith. DJ was into Predator comics and I think the first thing I saw of his was a copy of a Chris Warner drawing. I had switched schools a lot before that and had continually come in contact with "the class artists" And it always happened that they would cease to be the class artist when I showed up. It's really strange how there can only be one. But that didn't happen with DJ. DJ was too good to give up.

  10. You're probably right. I guess I also hadn't realized that LJ was so bad. I knew it wasn't great. Oh well. There's no way I'm starting all over again somewhere ells.

  11. Thanks, man. I really appreciate your comments. They mean a lot to me.
    I'm also a big Woody Allen fan and I, without a doubt, could say that his films have been more meaningful to me than Fellini's or Bergman's. So, I'm glad he bothered.
    I think that people who are knowledgeable on a subject tend to be more aware of the greater expertise of others. To point it out is to say, "if you like what I do, you should know that, in some ways, this guy is better. It's really an egocentric way for one artist to complement another, and in that way, I think, it comes off as more honest.

  12. Yeah, the Alternative/indie camp is often guilty of snobbery. Over all, I'm cool with that. The mainstream is the mainstream, it's got numbers behind it and I'll say that most of it is not great. There needed to be some snob to point out that Eightball was better than X-Men and then self righteous enough to stand by that when most people wouldn't believe it. It's that snobbery that eventually got those mainstream guys to finally find out for themselves. (I know because I was one of those mainstream guys. the snob was DJ.)
    On the other hand, there is a lot of pure crap produced in the alternative comic scene, and when one of these creators with their crudely drawn, poorly written auto-bio comic has that same snobbery towards the mainstream it becomes irritating.
    I actually don't count myself as a main-steam guy, despite it being where my work is. I like to think of myself as capable of liking good comics no matter what type they are. But if I had to pin myself down I'd say that I lean more towards Manga and European comics.

  13. So you crushed other artists dreams when you showed up. That is awesome!

  14. Well I'm guessing that you are in your 30's. It seems to me that there is a new paradigm in the comic world, back in the day you had that split between "mainstream" (read:superheros) and alternative( a.k.a Fantagraphic). Now I feel like you have things like Flight which aren't superheros but aren't like Ripple,Love&Rockets or Eightball. Plus you have creators who really aren't that well versed in any of the comic worlds but pick and choose what to read. The webcomic people come to mind. For myself I really liked that short lived Starreach movement where you had Jim Starlin,Howard Chakin and P. Craig Russell doing adventure stuff rather than superheros. I'd also include the Epic Illustrated stuff. Epic Illustrated was way ahead of its time if you ask me. It was like Heavy Metal with plot. I'd include Richard Corbin and Tim Truman in this camp of creator.

  15. Point taken.
    BTW, the book I was referring to is "Conversations With Woody Allen" by Eric Lax.
    Great stuff for Allen fans. The conversations span 1971 - 2005, and provide a lot of insight into his thoughts & work processes throughout that period.
    Good book to have around for breaks in work. You can jump around to different years & if you've seen most of his movies, there's a lot to digest.

  16. hey don't knock crudely drawn ;) I'm so happy for DJ I remember the first time I saw his stuff I didn't understand why he wasn't getting professional work, well I guess I understood why but it was insane. He has such a unique voice and immense talent, the depth of his work is very inspiring! I'm sure this is the start of a huge and successful career!