All this talk about art-collecting “grails” (see previous two Blogs) prompted me to think of the other side of the coin: Bad Stuff We Like.

Or call it Guilty Pleasures.

Just about any other area of life allows us to come clean with the accepted fact that everything we like is not necessarily great. Nowhere is this more evident than food. I don’t care if you’re a screamin’ vegan, ascetic athlete or religious rice-eater, every person on the planet can admit to liking something that isn’t good for them. With all the health concerns and advances in dietary science, there is still no shortage of greasy burgers, sloppy pizza, giant cupcakes, creamy pies, rich cakes and super-salty snacks on the shelves. (And thank goodness!) We all know by now that stuff can kill you, but all you need to excuse an indulgence is a simple, “But I like it.” And it works.

Same is true for cars, clothes, cigarettes, beer, booze, investments, vacation spots, hotels, cities, jobs…Heck, even people! How many times have you or a friend acknowledged dating (or even marrying) someone who just “isn’t good” for them? That you or they seem to be attracted to the “wrong kind of person”? Happens all the time.

Except in art. No one seems willing to admit they like art that isn’t the greatest, an artist who isn’t at the top of the heap, critically acclaimed or major success. If you like it, it’s good, if you don’t, it’s bad.

Well, if that’s the case, you’re deluding yourself. And I’m hear to set you free, my friend.

Art is mostly opinion. It’s emotional. Aesthetics appeal to one’s sense of beauty and pleasure, which is rooted in the emotional centers of the brain. Likes and dislikes are based in emotion, not rationality. So the mere fact you enjoy a piece of art means you have an emotional attachment to it, whether you admit it or not.

The part of the brain that deals with logic, with objectivity, is a different area. You can list objective reasons why something is of a certain quality, but those reasons don’t have to (and rarely do) jibe with the reasons for liking something. Like food, you can know something is inherently good or bad but still enjoy or not enjoy it. Human nature.

Me, I like good, solid drawing. Dynamic poses and layouts. I like art that displays a strong knowledge and command of anatomy and human expression. I also consider those elements part of quality artwork. But I don’t LIKE all art that displays these qualities, and I DO like some art that DOESN’T display them.


Example: Boris Vallejo is a great draftsman, painting and colorist. His drawing and anatomy are top-notch, his mastery of materials second to none. But I don’t dig his work very much. I could give all sorts of “objective” reasons, but in they end they come down to aesthetics and what appeals to me. Again, emotions. No knock against him or his considerable talent, skill and experience. I see all that, but I just don’t have that emotional connection. I could easily name another half dozen or more “greats” to which that applies.

Conversely, I enjoy Fred Rhoads’ work on SAD SACK. Much more than George Baker’s, in fact, who was the Sack’s (more critically acclaimed) creator. Not to demean the departed, but Rhoads’ storytelling wasn’t groundbreaking or dynamic, his cartooning  not exactly spectacular. I don’t think even he would say his work was on the par of a Carl Barks (whom I also love) by any means. Even the stories were pretty empty, basically a grouping of gags. But I still LIKE it! Its simplicity and expressive expediency appealed to me as a teen and continued to as I grew older; not unlike Jell-O or a Three Musketeers bar. They’re not good for me, they have no nutritional value, they’re simple, but man, I sure enjoy them once in awhile. And the same with SAD SACK. I couldn’t read it every day, but every year or two, gimme some!

Same goes with Ernie Bushmiller’s NANCY. Great strip. A lot like licorice. I know a lot of people who hate it! But as someone once said, NANCY was easier to read than not read it. (Bushmiller’s, not the ill-advised “updated” version much later.) Its starkness, its uniformity, its use of positive and negative space, all simply appealed to me, as did the simplistic gag humor. (I’m also a big fan of puns, good or bad.) I have a few strip collections and they make me smile more than not. I want a NANCY strip for my collection eventually. I make no apologies for it either.

So come on–be honest here! Along with the Frazettas and the Kirbys and the ECs and the Wattersons, I know there’s something you dig that deep down you don’t think is anybody’s grail. Something “bad” for your collection that still feels good. There’s a chocolate cream art pie or a peanut butter comic cookie you have tucked away or want to pick up but you’re not telling.

Let it out! Free yourself! You’re among friends–indulge.

We’ll have salad tomorrow.





P.S.: I’ve no pretensions when it comes to commissions. If I’m YOUR version of a fat Snickers bar, a Mickey-D’s dollar burger or a bag of Cheetos, I’m happy to oblige. And I won’t make you fat or turn your fingers orange. Just ask Craig for one here!

Published by Mike Pascale

Mike is a freelance storyboardist, artist, writer, comic book/web comic creator, graphic designer, award-winning senior art director/copywriter, Kubert School alumnus, Spectrum Fantasy Art award-winner, guitarist/songwriter, future novelist and full-time, life-long comics fan, pop culture collector, and book hoarder. His creations include Bru-Hed™ (America’s favorite Blockhead™), The Game Buzz!™ weekly webcomic, Nasti: Monster Hunter™, Mikey Moo-Moo™ and more “™s” waiting to be unleashed from his crazy cranium.

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  1. (Quick apology for the typos…Boris is obviously a “paintER”, not “paintING.” And no “it” on the end of the “…NANCY was easier to read” sentence.)


  2. My guilty pleasure art is Femforce, not so much an artists but a series. Its pure Cheesecake! It has some good art like Mark Heike, Bill Black and Brad Gorby, mostly on the covers. The interiors can be inconsistent but loved reading it back in the 80s.

    Be seeing you,

  3. Terry, there were guys at JKS that hated it and Denis Kitchen mentioned those who felt it was “souless” and unfunny in his introduction to the Kitchen Sink collection. A lot like onions–some love ’em, some hate ’em, very few are in the middle!

    And Brian, great choice! Cheesecake makes an EXCELLENT dessert! 🙂

    Are you the only one with the cojones to step up here??

  4. I’ll probably have trouble articulating this one, because I’m talking from a gut reaction . . .

    With most of the humor strips, those ‘cartoonist’guys would fail miserably if tasked with doing straight illustration.

    The cartoon (funny) strips seem to hit an emotional cord with the reader (viewer), even though a lot of the art isn’t really that proficient. But the style, if it raises a smile and evokes a warm feeling, can defy logic of what ‘ought’ to make a good drawing.

    As an original artwork collector, I’ve always leaned towards illustrative artists.

    But a big part of me likes the Bushmillers and Kremmers of this world (those two guys spring immediately to mind).

    I’m not really up on contemporary stuff, but there’s an cartoonist called Richard Sala that I’m taking notice of at the moment. His stuff is great (and that’s coming from someone who’s become too jaded to be easily impressed)!

  5. Checked out Richard Sala’s website. Pretty cool stuff. I really enjoy dark humor. Thanks for the tip! Speaking of dark humor. Ever seen Cyanide & Happiness? Very funny online strip. Perfect example of what you were talking about with “strip” art. There’s hardly anything you’d all “art”, but dang if it doesn’t work. Love it. Here’s a perfect example.

  6. I, for one, collect “Bad” art from an artist who is not “top of the heap”.

    I got back into comics after a long hiatus with a little book called Untold Tales of Spider-Man. A few years later, my mother bought me my first piece of OA. Also a page by the artist that made UTOS so enthralling to me. 12 years later, I am still collecting art by that artist.

    Patrick Olliffe.

    I enjoy the collecting, and the community, as much as the art itself. I have a not so meager goal of collecting at least one page from every book Olliffe has worked on.

    I find it fascinating to own pages from various points in this artists career… seeing how he has developed over time.

    Sure, He isn’t a huge “name” or a given “commodity”, but I don’t care. Collecting art, in my opinion, should be a joyful and fun experience.

    I’m having fun. I play within my meager means. It may be a small sandbox, but it’s mine. Not everyone can afford a Kirby FF or Ditko Spidey or such. Why belittle someone for enjoying art?

    What is bad? Really?!?

    The field is large enough for all of us. Anyone who Poo-Poos anyone else’s collection has bigger issues to deal with than Mine is bigger than yours…

    One small fish’s opinion.


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