Not That Henry Miller

ESCAPE by Henry Miller

Miller describes this as “an ode to BBC’s popular property-based program “Escape to the Country,” which I’ve not seen, but I have a description all my own. It involves a resurgence of UK comics from a similar school, these multimedia blenders from people like Simon Moreton, that incorporate traditional pen and ink work, full of strong but weathered lines, photography, collage, and often times travelogue stylings. Escape is something of a contemporary art pop culture piece of ephemera, taking what seems like quotes out of context, and then with the lost art of superimposition, juxtaposing those words with randomized backgrounds in order to squeeze out additional meaning. The results range from humor, to irony, to poignancy. Miller’s colors are great, whether simple things like a red sweater, or peacock feathers, to a field of creepy looking headstones supposedly left over from a witch’s coven. Escape will be a challenging read for some, in that it’s non-linear and there’s not much sequential narrative to speak of, but it’s extremely quirky and fun to wander through and think about different ways the imagery can be interpreted. Grade A-.

If you like the little cottage industry “Shit My Dad Says,” then this may tickle your fancy, though it’s maybe not as vulgar, in favor of being endearing most of the time, thanks to the words originating from Miller’s 8 year old daughter. It uses the same juxtaposition and recontextualization of quotes vis-à-vis found imagery that I described in Escape. The pieces really provoke, best exemplified by the innocently heartbreaking “Dad… do I look weird? Tell the truth.” Here, Miller’s daughter is a small lone hand-drawn figure amid a rocky cavernous background. It’s almost as if this placement makes us intuit that she risks losing her identity amid the larger world. I also enjoyed a piece concerning “angel delight” (which I assume some is some sort of candy or popular treat?), about which she says “There’s a secret ingredient. Nobody knows what it is apart from the makers.” Those quick lines are juxtaposed against a military helicopter in flight, almost hinting at paranoia over some covert government operation in our modern world. The pieces are playful and clever, but also serve as an interesting artistic time capsule, a unique gift that Miller may save and pass on to his daughter some day. I explored Miller’s web presence a bit and discovered some great Christmas cards available in his shop. I’d love to have some of those. Grade A.


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