Artist Brandon Bird likes pop culture. You might, in fact, know him from his strange, silly portraits of Christopher Walken, Peter Dinklage, and Chuck Norris (among many others), and his "Law & Order" colouring book, which, let's be honest, is amazing.
His latest gallery show dips into a world that Bird has touched on before: Marvel comics. More specifically, The Uncanny X-Men.
Like the "Jurassic Park" show he curated, X-Mans is a collaborative effort, with friends of Bird's each submitting a work based on a chosen theme -- in this case, a Marvel X-Men colouring book.
"Last year my first art book was published, and its format is sort of a parody of '70s and '80s activity books. So I was looking at a bunch of old colouring books while I was making it, and I remembered that I had this really bizarre X-Men book," Bird explained to CNET.
"It's something like 400 pages, the poses are all either 'flailing about and screaming' or 'getting coffee', the characters never interact with each other, and the backgrounds make it seem like the X-Men live in Colonial Williamsburg. So I dug it up and started asking people, 'Hey, what if I let artists pick a page from this thing and do their own interpretation?'"
He showed it to a friend (fellow artist Erin Pearce), who immediately had an idea for a picture of Magneto peering into a hole in a tree, and realised that he had to make the collection happen -- so he scanned a bunch of pictures from the book, posted them to a secret Facebook group and invited his artist friends to have at it.
Bird, who said he stopped reading comics when he realised that they were telling the same stories in different ways ("the illusion of change", he called it), said that the collection wasn't really intended to be about how silly comics can be -- although that may be a side effect.
"The art show is mostly about the coloring book images themselves, although the badness of the drawings sort of afforded a way to look at the characters objectively, without the sheen of style," he said. "And then you realize how nonsensical they are. My friend Jamie (a non-comics fan) said something like, 'I had to keep looking at reference pictures of Gambit while I was painting, because I just could not understand how his outfit was supposed to work.' So yeah, I guess there is an element of deconstructing the X-Men going on."
The works have already appeared in a small, three-day exhibition, but comics fans, absurdity fans, colouring book fans, and Brandon Bird fans can take a look at and by prints of the contributing works on the X-Mans section of Bird's website. Click through the gallery below for a small sampling of our favourites.