Artist profile: Asher J. Klassen


Hi everyone!

Our Onça Classics crowdfunding campaign is two weeks from the end date and still almost 80% left to raise. We really need your help! We’ve prepared a press release about our story which we hope will get us some extra eyes. If you have personal contact with any media outlets, particularly in Western Canada, please get us in touch with them.

In the meantime, I’d like to introduce our first contributing artist: Asher J. Klassen.

Asher is a comics artist drawn to the story of Jekyll and Hyde because of the idea of duality. “Dichotomies are powerful things in art and literature; they make powerful characters and powerful visuals,” says Asher, an aficionado of the superhero story, where alter egos abound. “It’s what draws me to Noir; the visual weight of light and dark and the idea that people who appear one way in the light are doing something much darker in the shadows.”

"American Gods," inspired by Neil Gaiman's novel of the same name. This piece was gifted to Gaiman during a signing in 2013.
“American Gods,” inspired by Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name. This piece was gifted to Gaiman during a signing in 2013.

Among other things, Asher is interested in how comics can serve as a pedagogical medium. “I’m working on an 8-page educational comic with Dr. A. David Lewis in Boston about superheroes and the afterlife, which has been a challenge and a half. The presentation of abstract concepts through comics is a different animal than straight storytelling; definitely something I want to keep working with.”

He also experiments extensively with form, using the tensions between word and image on the page to build on the poetic strength of the piece, or using space in unusual ways to influence the narrative. “I want to stretch the boundaries of the medium,” he says.

Untitled, an experiment using graph paper on its side as a framing guide.
Untitled, an experiment using graph paper on its side as a framing guide.
Untitled, an exercise on the relationship of narrative and space.
Untitled, an exercise on the relationship of narrative and space.

Not surprisingly, Asher’s favourite medium is “ink. Always ink.” As he puts it, “it’s this liquid that has carried human knowledge for millennia.” Regardless of the method of application—from dip pen to printmaking—there’s a sense that you’re working in this tradition that extends back through history even beyond greats like Dürer or Gutenberg.

Asher is donating one piece of exclusive Jekyll & Hyde–themed art to our cause. Get a poster of his work for a $20 donation; or for only $250 dollars, you get to have the original art, plus a copy of our limited edition of Jekyll & Hyde and 40% lifetime discount on Onça Classics!

Be sure to visit Asher’s website ajkomics.ca and follow his blog, Watercolour Horizons.

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