photo & text by nacrowe
i first became aware of artist JAY HOWELL via his CRUDE yet singularly EVOCATIVE CLASSIC TALES animations for VANS where prominent athletes and musicians recount extreme events from their lives. basically everyone from KEITH MORRIS (CIRCLE JERKS / OFF! / BLACK FLAG), ANDERSON .PAAK, DARRYL JENNIFER (BAD BRAINS) and ROBERT TRUJILLO (SUICIDAL TENDENCIES / OZZY OSBOURNE / METALLICA) to SCOTTY CRANMER, ELIJAH BERLE, JEFF GROSSO, TONY ALVA, GEOFF ROWLEY, CHRISTIAN HOSOI and so on. what i loved about these figures was how DISFIGURED and CREEPY they were, with flapping stick limbs and bulging facial expressions these GROTESQUE humanoids felt like the perfect avatars for athletes and musicians that live outside the normal guardrails of society, both physical and moral.
so of course i sought out his equally MAKESHIFT zine anthology PUNK'S GIT CUT (LAST GASP, 2015) just to get a sense of where this dude is coming from. and for that effort i am still quite lost because this publication defies definition. most of his graphic work is HASTILY-CONCEIVED SHARPIE notes of nonsensical scenarios meant to prod and titillate with references to UNUSUAL methods of SELF-HARM, SEX and BODILY FUNCTIONS. id say it was SOPHOMORIC in nature if the actual drawings werent so damn PRIMITIVE and RAW. if anything those drawings convey an ANARCHIC sense of PATHOS and PERSPECTIVE that far outruns the text that contextualizes them. in HOWELL's rudimentary work i see nods and echoes of work by another NOTORIOUS CALIFORNIA artist in RAYMOND PETTIBON, who similarly takes delight in the IMMEDIATE and RANDOM juxtapositions of image and text.
my favorite section of this anthology is "THE DARK WAVE" narrative about a BLACK METAL singer tripping balls during a concert and then running into a forest graveyard and ultimately surfing a coffin before aliens presumably accost him in the ocean. just the LAWLESS humor, ABSURDITY and the just plain RANDOMNESS of it all was thoroughly enjoying. i look forward to seeking out his other more recent publications.
definitely check out the work of JAY HOWELL. its hard to believe this dude has done work for NICKELODEON for children's programing. nothing more INSIDIOUS then that i guess, then again i was raised on PEE-WEE'S PLAYHOUSE so who knows.