Fan art for a property isn’t exactly new. People have been lovingly drawing Kirk, Spock, Wolverine and the Millennium Falcon for ages.
What is new, however, is the audience, the marketing, and the attention from the art community. Fan art used to be confined to conventions, where they were peddled from card tables by fans to fans. But with the Internet and the mainstreaming of fannish, cultish behavior, you’re seeing shows like Crazy4Cult pop up.
Someday, they’ll probably study this phenomenon in art classes. People will argue as to whether reworking existing properties is, in fact, art. There are probably people arguing that right now. But for now, there’s just the record of the fans, and the galleries, and books like Titan Book’s Crazy 4 Cult.
Krista Huot, Snowfall Over Poppies, inspired by the The Wizard of Oz
Crazy4Cult collects some of the best and brightest the last four years of Gallery 1988’s show. (Kevin Smith, one of the brains behind the show, writes a foreword but it isn’t too in depth about the history or its popularity.) They’re all presented beautifully, many of the paintings meriting a full page. It’s a pretty remarkable collection, with a lot of incredible artists getting a chance to shine outside of the gallery.
It’s not a book I can easily recommend, though. Crazy4Cult is going to appeal to a particular aesthetic, and you may not be it. I know I’m not. I love movies, and I love movie art, but little of the paintings and sculptures preserved within appeal to me. Some of this is because it’s the usual suspects — Tarantino, The Big Lebowski, Army of Darkness — and much of it is just the style many of these artists prefer working in. (Many of them seem to be ripping off Mark Ryden.) But I can’t deny these are some creative and talented individuals, many of whom seem to possess a sense of humor and adoration I can get behind. Several of the paintings go beyond homage, and into straight-up original, glorious, beholden-to-none artwork.
Mari Inukai, Milk, inspired by A Clockwork Orange.
If you’re a fan of Crazy 4 Cult, you’ll love the book. Titan has put together a a nice, beautifully presented collection that pays tribute to the show and the artists. If this kind of art is your thing, and ripping up books isn’t a cardinal sin, there’s plenty of frameable works between the covers. If you leave it out on your coffee table, it’s guaranteed to start a heated conversation about the nature of art, and the definition of cult. (I found myself having it even as I turned the pages. Are any of these films really cult anymore? Is this kind of artistic community even cultish?)
Rich Pellegrino, “Wonka,” inspired by Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory