To promote the first issue of nonSENSE Press’ upcoming erotic-grotesque inspired zine, NANSENSU, we will be interviewing each of this issue’s contributing creators in the upcoming week.
Today we’re joined by K. M. Claude, a skilled comic artist who embodies erotic grotesque.
Tell us a bit about your art. To what subjects are you drawn? Any style(s) that you tend toward? Any preference for certain mediums?
My spiel is usually that my work can best be described as erotic Southern Gothic — a mix of the sensually gorgeous and the horrifically grotesque — and I stick to that description. Subject-wise, I’m drawn to dark topics and difficult subject matter. Death, decay, desire, corruption of innocence, loss of stability, loss of control, the limits of human sanity, and the beauty and horror of all of the above — you know, macabre subjects that we sadly encounter to some degree in our lives. In art I can deal with those things in all their terrifying, gruesome, arousing horror and pick them apart and safely control them and call the shots; it’s therapeutic, for me and others. Style-wise, I’d say I’m obviously manga-inspired. As for mediums, I personally tend toward digital medium, using Clip Studio Paint, but I do enjoy traditional art and want to push myself to get back into it. But it’s just so much easier to format and correct mistakes digitally!
What inspires you and your art?
Life experiences, definitely, especially my tumultuous relationship with Catholicism. Also crime scene images and shows I really never should have seen as a child. In terms of media, I’m inspired by films from the Disney Renaissance era, Tim Burton, musicians and bands like Rammstein, Oingo Boingo, Marilyn Manson, Alice Cooper and the like, and Japanese musicals, horror films, and comics.
What are the names of your works included in this issue?
The comic is called “Human” and the two illustrations are titled “Sex Police” and “Puberty”.
What inspired each of your works included in this issue?
“Human” is inspired by, in part, a line from American Horror Story: Asylum: “all monsters are human.” I wanted to do something that exists in that interstice between arousal and revulsion, humanity and monstrosity, love and hate, pity and disdain, something that’ll make the reader feel uncomfortably warm and sick to their stomach and maybe ask themselves what a monster really is? Of course, that’s just my hopes — it could flop! The comic features two characters I’ve written and drawn vignettes about for almost ten years now, characters who in turn were inspired by the true crime shows I should never have been allowed to watch as a wee child and the clerical sex abuse scandals that deeply affected me and my faith in my youth. I’ve always wanted to do something more official for that universe and a zine about monsters was just the right place to debut a comic about them.
“Sex Police” is partly inspired by Takato Yamamoto’s work, which I’ve recently fallen in love with, my eternal love of J-Horror, and the sudden upswing in online spaces of young people spouting ideological rhetoric sans thought or nuance regarding sex and sexuality that is really just the same ol’ suburban soccer mom, moral panic, “rock and roll is the Devil’s music” pro-censorship views wrapped up in progressive thought. Censorship sans critical engagement is truly monstrous, to me.
“Puberty” is something of a take on the theme of der Tod und das Mädchen and has its roots in my own preteen fears and realizations that I was going to be seen as a prospective sexual partner (even if I had and still have no inclinations towards such things), that time does pass, that I too would die. I wanted to draw an androgynous subject, since this is something that affects us all, embracing the one partner we’re all destined to be with one day.
What would you consider your role or responsibility as an artist to be, if you believe any to exist? If you don’t, is there a reason for that?
I think one does exist — besides the call to make good art, of course — but it’s as part of a mutually symbiotic relationship with the reader or viewer or consumer of the artwork. Viewers, y’all — we — are smart, and my duty is to treat you as such. As an artist, a writer, a creator, I’m not here to spoon feed you morals or meanings. I’m solely here to make you a lovely, beautiful, fulfilling dinner — one that I hope you will enjoy for the reasons I intended — but it’s up to you to look at what I’m serving and know you don’t eat soup with a goddamn fork.
Where can we find more of your work?
For finished works, publications, updates, and general information, head to kmclaude.com.
Any final thoughts or closing statements you’d like to make?
I think Neil Gaiman said it best with “make good art”. Not necessarily socially acceptable art or cute art or hang it on the refrigerator art or un-provocative art or twee art or safe art but good art. Sometimes good art is terrifying and horrifying and makes your skin crawl and that’s okay. That means it’s doing its job.
Thank you, K. M. Claude! For updates and more, including when issue #1 of NANSENSU goes live in print and e-book, follow us here at @nonsense-press, on wordpress, twitter, or sign up for our mailing list!