Books

The Good, the Positive and the Funny in Scott C.'s Art

(Simon & Schuster / Insight Editions)

No matter his subject matter, Scott C.'s confident cheerfulness is obvious and infectious.

Splendid Life: The Art of Scott C.
Scott Campbell

Insight Editions

7 Nov. 2017

Amazon
Other

"In this book, you may encounter hugging, the eating of pizza, bees, unicornish creatures, dinosaurs, a giant, a cyclops holding a pie, a fox wearing a turtleneck, a mummy at a drafting table, people fighting, frogs with wiggling arms, plants that grow out of heads, sharpshooters... perhaps you may even see a ghost! Or many ghosts! Be ready! Put your good journeying clothes on and be ready for anything! Because and anything and everything awaits you as you turn this page and enter this world of splendid wonderfulness." -- Scott C., Introduction

Splendid Life: The Art of Scott C. is the latest collection of the artist's imaginative and whimsical work. Though most known for his excellent Great Showdowns series, Scott C. is also an accomplished illustrator of individual pieces and books featuring his own original characters, as well as pop culture interpretations. Splendid Life is a wonderful compilation of that work, alongside his own observations and artistic philosophy.

Scott C.'s watercolors are often playful and surprising. The book is organized by theme and series, yet the unifying characteristic that ties all of his work together is his admitted love for happy things (the two sections of the book are titled "Famous Friendships" and "Land of Pleasant Times", after all). The unexpected friendships that crop up throughout his work, such as those featured in his Ghost pottery wheel scene series (featuring Pac-Man and a Ghost, Peter Venkman and Slimer, among others) speak to his determined perspective to find the good, the positive, and the funny in his art.

It's worth noting that there's often some very funny elements to Scott C.'s art. Whether it's found in his slightly offbeat interpretations, such as his Star Wars Cantina paintings that imagine various Cantina tables and their inhabitants, or his Parisian dog walkers with hats made of dogs, Scott C. manages to imbue a fanciful sense of wonder and imagination to his subjects. The Foreword to Splendid Life is written by Mamrie Hart, a YouTube comedian and actress who met Scott in an improv class in 2008. Their friendship grew out of their shared love of comedy and Scott's art reflects that connection to comedy consistently and cleverly.

(Simon & Schuster / Insight Editions)

As mentioned, Scott C.'s Great Showdowns series is arguably his most popular. Though those pop culture showdowns aren't as well represented here (particularly as three small volumes, perfectly sized to represent his small square watercolors, have already been released), there's plenty of material here to appeals to those fans. His multiple Carl Sagans and Jeff Goldblums, or Planet of the Apes characters partying on the beach, Beach Blanket Bingo-style, or the aforementioned Star Wars Cantina series, come to immediate mind as the kind of inventive work that drives his Great Showdowns.

Some of Scott C.'s original characters include Sonny the Fox and Friends and The Tender Ones, and again, they're filled with the qualities that make his art so simultaneously endearing and surprising. In his Introduction, Scott C. writes about "Ideas" as concepts to be cultivated, nurtured, and harnessed. Asking questions of his ideas, and then roughly sketching them out on paper, is part of his artistic process, and it's served him well. Sonny the Fox lives in the forest among his many friends while also engaging in his many hobbies and attempting to navigate the sometimes confusing and fragile relations between the tree spirits of the forest and his friends. Additionally, The Tender Ones are creatures whose terrible actions and seeming tragedies result in rainbows and happiness rather than blood and death. It's this kind of juxtaposition of the expected with the imaginative that is at the heart of Scott C.'s art.

Scott C.'s use of watercolors adds a further dimension to his work. Where simple line drawings or more intricate, detailed paintings could also bring his visions to life, his watercolors convey the kind of inspired settings and creatures wonderfully. Even as he's illustrating the works of others, such as Kelly DiPucchio's children's picture book zombie series, or interpreting established works, such as his Criterion DVD artwork for Easy Rider, Scott C.'s watercolors lend themselves to creating whole worlds -- often through the use of greens, pinks, and earth tones -- beautifully.

Though not the first book to collect Scott C.'s paintings, Splendid Life is an engaging and inventive collection that brings together more of his work for longtime fans and also serves as a good introduction to his style and subjects for newer fans. There's a whole lot to love in Scott C.'s work, not the least of which is his clever use of established characters, but regardless of his subject matter, his confident cheerfulness is obvious and infectious.

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