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X-Ray Specs (yo fuck that guy) by KillerAcid

Well, the artist has made good on his moniker. Artist KillerAcid makes trippy, drug-induced, gonzo works that would fit well on the wall of Hunter S. Thompson. Smatterings of psychedelic imagery are juxtaposed with washed out colors, things dripping and zapping, lines to connote wonky movement and thought. X-Ray Specs (yo fuck that guy) is interesting among KillerAcid’s works because of its lack of overt drug-related imagery. Really, there are two separate sides to KillerAcid’s works: one which is inherently drug-related --walking bongs and pot leaves, blotter acid with a pulse-- and another which eschews drug-imagery in favor of drug-afflicted imagery. Look at this zany, bonkers, pell-mell piece before us, a veritable sweating hellscape of proposed heat and electric lines, cartoons and comic book imagery. It’s either an LSD-enthusiast’s worst nightmare or wet dream. KillerAcid has demonstrated a desire to toe that line.

It’s hard to quantify all that appears in this image, for there’s simply so much to examine and take stock of. The overarching idea behind the image is, paraphrasing KillerAcid himself, to parody old comic book advertisements, the kind that populate pages at the end of the edition, promising all kinds of wonky innovations: mermaid eggs (sea monkeys), whoopie cushions, and most importantly, X-Ray Glasses. Adorning the huge cartoon face of the black-haired, profusely sweating man who takes up most of the image’s upper-left quadrant, the X-Ray Specs are nominally a children’s toy, although KillerAcid remarks significantly upon their inherent misogyny. The idea of their letting users see through walls, or more importantly, see through women’s clothing, is overtly remarked upon. One of the characters (of a total 20 characters [i can count] which possess eyes) is a woman in a swimsuit hiding her face behind a magazine. “I think that creep is staring at me!” she pronounces, presumably speaking about the aforementioned giant head, whose long tongue stretches out like the Howling Wolf of Tex Avery fame. What a creep. As he looks on lasciviously, almost literally drooling, he is confronted by both the woman below him, the sunbathing one, and a Dog-lady wearing a sheer dress, saying either to herself or to us, “Yo f*ck that guy.” So there we have the piece’s central tension: between misogynistic men and their victims, portrayed here less as damsels in distress and more as disturbed, annoyed, and too close to those with bad intentions. These three characters --large face, sunbather, and dog-lady-- each get a quadrant of the image mostly to themselves, with the final quadrant, bottom-right, filled in by a nightmarish skull, literally melting into yellow goo before our eyes, with two giant, bloodshot eyeballs exuding some kind of curly-cue laser beam. 

Read all that description again, and you can get a sense of the sheer madcap nature of KillerAcid’s piece. It really is too much at times. At least to describe. And yet, there’s an overarching logic to the piece. Colors generally waver between washed out reds and mustard yellows and some hybrid of white-and-tan. There are lots of eyeballs. There are lots of faces. There are lots of spirals and puffy clouds and zig-zag lines. Hardly any empty space is left in which to rest. It’s a lot to take in, to physically intake through our eyeballs. If there’s stray space, it’s filled with squiggles or polka dots or anthropomorphic cats, snakes, mushrooms. Speech bubbles help communicate a tacit narrative, or if not a narrative, than at least an established relationship between characters. Characters which occupy this same dream-space and can, apparently, interact with each other. Don’t think too much into it. Or do. A vapid, simply-pretty piece this most certainly is not. 

Because this is a quietly brilliant piece in commentary, matching its outward, aesthetic brilliance. There are real conversations it seems to desire having about gender roles, about historical misogyny, about the sexism inherent in comic books, a history which is now routinely ignored as white-washed and Disney-fied comic book movies continue to centralize themselves in the cultural zeitgeist. In influence, we can see X-Ray Specs pulling from Lichtenstein as well as from Saturday morning cartoons. In intention, X-Ray Specs (yo fuck that guy) seems equally intended to disturb and amuse and provoke. 

And for a moment, let’s focus on all the eyeball imagery. It makes sense that the piece would revolve so significantly around the visual sense, but the eyeballs are really prolific here. I count 39, and I’ve still probably missed some. An extricated eyeball sits along the image’s southern border, as if ripped from its sockets, and eyeballs are here depicted in every state: intact, bloodshot, covered by glasses, closed and open, as spirals, as suggestive and threatening and lackadaisical and placid and wigged-out and turned-on and tuned-out. Perhaps this is emphasizing KillerAcid’s comment on the power of sight alone to harm or affect the object of attention. Perhaps it’s just an expressive way to show mood, intent, and personality. Perhaps it’s meant as a kind of mirror, hoping to capture every way this piece might be seen and thus understood. It leaves room for everyone’s individual reaction. It’s easy to see oneself reflected in this piece. Take a moment and look thoroughly, I’m sure you’re in there somewhere.

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