When I was a young, fresh-faced university student I met a very nice Canadian, forensic science student called Andrea. We became good friends and ended up sharing a house in our second year. Whilst we lived together, Andrea introduced me a few of her rather odd obsessions. She is partial to casting and painting “alternative” gnomes, she likes ska music and she particularly enjoys the comic, Lenore: The Cute Little Dead Girl. Now, as odd as I found the gnomes and as much fun as I had dancing to the ska, the obsession I really got on board with was her comic loving. However, since finishing university, Andrea and I have drifted apart but my love for Lenore goes on.
So when Taxidermied: The Art Of Roman Dirge turned up on my doorstep I was overjoyed. Roman Dirge is the writer and illustrator of those comics I had grown ever so fond of over the past few years. Not only is it chock full of Lenore-esque cartoons it is full of sketches, doodles and some of the most disturbed yet beautiful illustrations I have ever seen.
Dirge himself describes his art book as a journey of “illicit, interesting and at times horrid memories of old.” It is a selection of work spanning his career as an artist, presented together in one place for the first time. All the art pieces in the book are tied together by a single thread – pure oddness. Even in what appears to have started life as an innocent doodle, somehow takes a turn to the slightly dark and macabre yet somehow via the cute and striking. Even the self portrait that features the artist’s open head and brain full of worms has a peculiar sort of charm that the mouthful of flesh he is sporting shouldn’t really muster.
The book is broken into sections based on their style from sketches and artwork through to scary tales and monsters. All the work is very different and is spawned from real life occurrences, dreams and ideas given to him by other people (mostly ex-girlfriends with animal fixations!) Dirge’s self detrimental commentary that accompanies the pieces is almost as brilliant as the actual art and you feel like you actually get a rare glimpse into the life of this strange man that is only known as an artist and magician.
Dirge has always been a bit of an enigma up until this point. The biography on his website is based on his Wikipedia page, (I promise it is this way round and not the other) and it is rather difficult to find any actual facts on the man. Although Taxidermied may not provide you with facts, it supplies more insight than any encyclopaedia entry ever could. It presents you with a look into the inner workings of the mind of an artist and a pretty good grasp on the personality that sparks the quirky art pieces he produces.
I genuinely love this book and its artist and can guarantee I’ll be sporting a Roman Dirge inspired tattoo sometime in the near future. As for Dirge, the impression I get of the man from his scribbling in this book is that I’d definitely like to go out for a beer with him; I think we’d get on as we seem to share a slightly warped view of the world… that and he’s a bit of a looker!