STUFF REVIEW: Arf, Arf, Arf
Craig Yoe is not the most unusual man I’ve ever met. However, this is a statement that reveals more about me than it does about him, and since this is a review of his work I’ll try to stop scaring people.
Craig Yoe runs this place called Yoe! Studios, which is really just one single studio filled with talented people, a lot of energy, and great fun. They do all kinds of stuff: they create the Big Boy Comics (yes, they’re still being published), they do those astonishingly packaged comics figurines that Dark Horse sells and they do design work and create toys and sundry chachkis for such clients as Kraft, Warner Bros. and Microsoft. They hand out Yoe! Studio whoopee cushions and thongs at important business trade shows. He used to run the Muppet Workshop. He actually looks like the Kelly Freas drawing, slightly dispelling the myth that if you don’t look like Corporate America, you won’t fit into Corporate America.
Craig Yoe is also a major, long-time comics fan, among the best and brightest Ohio has had to offer comics, which is saying a lot (the tip of the iceberg: Jerry Siegel, Tony Isabella, Maggie Thompson, Mike W. Barr, Harlan Ellison, ComicMix’s own Martha Thomases and Mike Raub). But, to no one’s surprise, his tastes are as unusual as he is.
For the past couple years, he’s been foisting his line art fantasies on the general public with his Arf series, published by Fantagraphics. There are three such books out right now – in order, Modern Arf, Arf Museum, and Arf Forum. No matter how hardcore a comics enthusiast you might be, there’s a lot of weird stuff in these volumes that you should see, that you would want to see.
His roster of reprinted talent includes (in alphabetical order): Ernie Bushmiller, Charlie Chaplin, Robert Crumb, Salvadore Dali, Dan DeCarlo, Jack Davis, Rudolph Dirks, Max Ernst, Jimmy Hatlo, Hugh Hefner, Reamer Keller, George Herriman, Frank King, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Patrick McDonnell, Pablo Picasso, Artie Spiegelman, Mort Walker, and Wally Wood. That’s a really eclectic group of cartoonists; and, yes, I meant cartoonists. You might not have perceived some of the above as such.
There’s tons of comics in each action-packed volume, with a bit of a focus on cheesecake and pin-up. Most of it falls into the “extremely hard to find and I’ll bet you’ve never seen it before” category. Some falls into the “never before reprinted” category. Almost all of it falls into the “holy shit” category. Craig wisely keeps the narrative to a minimum, letting the graphics speak for themselves.
If it’s possible to put a creator’s most bizarre predilections between the covers, Craig Yoe has done just that in his Arf series. They must be seen to be believed, but if you’re placing an order at your friendly neighborhood comics shop or at Amazon or you’re at one of the better big box bookshops, each book (there will be more) is $19.95 and if you’ve got it to spare, take a shot in the dark. He’s got (surprise!) a website all about it, and he takes orders there.
Artsey-fartsey has never been so much fun. I doubt you’ll be disappointed, and you just might be amazed.
Artwork copyright Craig Yoe. All Rights Reserved.