Beyond the Graphic Novel: Mixed-Media Photo Portraits of Comics Artists
Allan Amato’s celebrity and fashion photography has earned him the admiration of many, including famed comics writers Neil Gaiman — “Allan is a lot like a wizard: his photos take us places we’ve never been” — and Grant Morrison — “Allan is easily my favorite photographer.” So almost inevitably, he’s gotten around to shooting an array of top-line comics artists and illustrators. And early on in the process he wondered: What would happen if his subjects took his portraits of them to another level by incorporating their own visions of themselves as well? Well, Temple of Art, a lavish, coffee table photo-and-art book, is what happened.
Amato conceived and developed the idea with Kabuki creator David Mack, whose uniquely compelling graphic aesthetic is providing atmospheric inspiration for Daredevil and is featured in Imaginary Forces’ title sequence for Jessica Jones. One outcome of this project is a bold, powerful series of hybrid portraiture. In themselves, Amato’s images convey the moody, tactile sensuality of a Greg Gorman. As Mack sees it, “His photos of you are like how you want to think of yourself.” And once they’ve been embellished by the artists they express diverse modes and dimensions of inspiration and transformation. Each artist also contributes commentary which provides supplemental insight into their processes, philosophies, and personal compulsions.
And the mixed-media layering is not yet over, as Temple of Art has also expanded into an upcoming documentary that includes Dave McKean, Molly Crabapple, Bill Sienkiewicz and the others shown here as well as Fight Club’s Chuck Palahniuk, Clerks‘ and comics’ Kevin Smith, singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer, and many other artists, over 50 in all.
Jason Shawn Alexander
David Mack between Temple of Art co-creators Olga Nunes and Allan Amato, with Temple artists Barron Storey, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Satine Phoenix at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con. Photo: M. Dooley
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About Michael Dooley
Michael Dooley is the creative director of Michael Dooley Design and teaches History of Design, Comics, and Animation at Art Center College of Design and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He is also a Print contributing editor and author.