Artist's Statement

E. J. Barnes at SPX 2013

Photo of E. J. Barnes at Small Press Expo 2013
Photo by Dre Grigoropol

My mother taught me to read using the comic strips in our local newspapers. I learned the language not only of words, but of sequential pictures.

Soon, I was reading them on my own, belly-flopping on the living room floor with the Sunday color funnies.

Then, one day in my first semester of Kindergarten, a teacher from another class came into our classroom. In tears, she told us that President Kennedy had been shot and killed. Since that moment I have been stuck like a fly in the amber of history.

This may be why I graduated so quickly to reading the political cartoons that appeared in Time Magazine and our newspapers' editorial pages. Most memorable from my youth are Pat Oliphant's and Herblock's cartoons of Richard Nixon.

In my comic, cartoon, and illustration work, my aim is not only to entertain but to comment on life itself. I work in ink, ink wash, watercolor, gouache, scratchboard, and digital media — each chosen to best tell the tale.

From the graceful shapes of the animal kingdom to the squalor and confusion of the modern cityscape, my work embraces what it means to be an organism. Humor and horror, joy and rage strike a dynamic, often uneasy balance. Through narrative, be it in sequential art or the single panel, the distant is brought close, and the abstract rendered concrete.

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