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Intelligent cartoons!! Parade of unconventional voices is a 3-decade retrospective collection of humor, art, and philosophy conveyed by 40 single-frame large-panel cartoons. Ostensibly, the subject matter of many of the cartoons is a holiday greeting (e.g., Happy New Year!). However, by entering the world of predominantly inanimate objects (from rocks, compasses, and sand grains to planets, playing cards, underwear, drips, armpits, elevators, and sphincter muscles), new perspectives and insights into the human condition are attained. The novel point of view running through this volume establishes a dry, understated humor, which softens edgy philosophical and social commentary. Pen-and-ink drawings vividly depict striking landscapes, themselves works of art, and these reinforce the quirkiness of the protagonists’ reality. The majority of pieces build into a rich, original cultural context that conjures curiosity, perplexity, contemplation, and smiles. This imaginative body of work challenges us to see, hear, and listen in new ways.
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Eugene L. Madsen. artist. cartoonist (microbiologist Cornell university). b. 1953. Proponent of the “Intelligent Cartoon School” that expands single-panel cartoons into intricate compositions that merge eclectic elements of art, philosophy, and humor. Contrariness is inherent in this art form; this is the antithesis of “quick glance, laugh-and go, one-liner cartooning”. Instead the majority of Madsen’s works develop complex webs of ideas and cultural interactions within each cartoon. Dialogues occur between disembodied speakers attending conventions in bizarre, yet beautiful, pen-and-ink-drawn landscapes. Protagonists and themes range from ice bergs, sand grains, arm pits, and clocks to arrested development, literary debates, and why we get up in the morning. Each piece fuses existential and mundane aspect of the human condition in an overriding context of humor and absurdity. In the 1970s, Madsen began formal studies in graphic arts in the Santa Cruz mountains. He practiced intaglio and etching with Howard Ikemoto (Cabrillo College) and apprenticed with Phillip Hefferton. Besides Hefferton, Madsen’s major influences were Futzie Nutzle and Henry Humble. All three (Hefferton, Nutzle and Humble) excelled in the bold, clean, honest, assertive pen-and-ink medium.
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