“The Love Man is a star or a floating alien light that occasionally takes the shape of a human to look for love on planet Earth, but struggles to find it,” says artist Ben Marcus. For the past four years, Ben has been collaborating with artist Dave Krueger at The Arts of Life, an art studio for adults with disabilities, to produce a series of drawings, comics and posters of an alien-human hybrid hopelessly searching for his other half. The vibrant sketches are both endearing and endlessly entertaining.
In 2017, the duo published their first book of comics, Love Man, a three-story anthology about the daily ordeals of love and friendship. “When me and Dave meet to work on comics, I ask him a lot of questions about the stories or genre types he might want to explore. Dave insisted we do a romance story and he quickly coined the name Love Man,” Ben explains. Inspired by Valentine’s day, the two artists are now creating a new series of charming illustrations that are just as funny. One drawing features the dandy Love Man remarking “listen to the crickets… they sound like Michael Jackson” while holding a rose in his immaculate hands. Another, features the slick protagonist saying “let me guess… you have nice parents” as he smiles at the viewer and smokes his cigarette. “Dave,” Ben says, “has a lot of ideas about what the Love Man has to say in regards to love and life, so each drawing is a simple expression of the Love Man’s many thoughts and moods.” The creative duo are a dynamic force of talent and humour that successfully evoke feelings of compassion for this warmhearted and hopelessly romantic character.
The collaborative project has prompted Ben to explore creative approaches outside of his comfort zone: “Our practice is a safe place for me to playfully experiment with colour combinations and to use more gestural, expressive mark making that I typically don’t let myself do in my private work. I also use materials that I often don’t come across in my personal work, like highlighter markers and crayons.” The creative process is equally distributed between the two of them. First, Ben sketches big, clean outlines of the comics. Dave then traces over the drawings with marker pens, adding colour and dialogue. “I try to ensure that Dave’s message of love and affection comes across as clearly and faithfully to his intention as I can. Dave and I are both trying to bring an innocent, big-hearted, full-feeling character into the world, in a way that is original and true to each of us.”
Despite the two artists having distinct personal styles, the well-matched colour palette and bold, precise lines of Love Man develop organically through dialogue and discussion. “I think this message of love is extremely important to convey to the world at this time. I hope that people can connect to the power of two extremely different artist’s working together to create vibrant and unique stories.”
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