Introducing Dan Hill, an artist who will be contributing a weekly comic to Smile Politely, is a bit humbling and a lot intimidating for me. As someone who doesn’t possess a creative bone in her body, I’ve always found it frustrating trying to explain why I like something or why I think something is beautiful. Or disturbing. Or frightening. Or off-putting. Or challenging. Or hilarious. Or interesting. Or exasperating.
Dan Hill’s comics are all of these. I discovered him three or four years ago when I bought his zine, The Fifty Flip Experiment, at Exile on Main Street. I remember reading it, nonstop, from cover-to-cover and telling my spouse (who works with Dan, interestingly enough) that never before had I been as moved and repulsed and entertained by a zine. Ever.
Dan's art brings to mind what the lovechild of a torrid three-way between R. Crumb, Hieronymus Bosch, and Austin Osman Spare would look like. He offends both the senses and the soul. And he exhilarates them too. He’s never safe. He’s never sentimental. And he’s never boring.
I won’t pretend that I enjoy everything I’ve ever seen by Dan (hell, with one exception, I don’t enjoy everything that any artist has ever created). But I will say that his works are not the kind that one can absorb quickly, or heedlessly. They’re too compelling.
I’m delighted that Dan has agreed to share his art here on Smile Politely, and I look forward to being amused, shocked, and disquieted on a weekly basis for — hopefully — many years to come.