The first word that popped into my head upon looking at Leon Michael Sadler‘s artwork was “uncomfortable.” Sadler frequently works in the medium of cartoon scrawls, creating images that are halfway between a character design and an explosion of marker. And his illustrations frequently walk a tight line between narrative and abstract, depicting figures that are once clear and alien, with familiar strains of manga, Terry Gilliam, Frank Frazetta, Roger Dean, ’70s and ’80s cartoons, and a host of other influences jammed together in strange and unexpected ways. The results are as diverse as they are bizarre, depicting everything from multicolored abstract visions to black-and-white scenes that use child-like imagery to craft moments as terrifying as anything in a slasher film.
Sadler publishes underground comics by a variety of artists through his independent publishing house Famicon Express. It’s especially fascinating to follow his blog and his Flickr stream, where you can really see the full range of his artistic styles. Sometimes he crafts carefully structured scenes filled with visual dimension, like the strange battle in the image up top. Other times, he creates pictures that have an almost childish, jam-packed quality that feels closer to folk art. All of his artwork, however, is marked by an explosive, sometimes overwhelming energy that seems to be bursting out of him and onto the page.