The Cartoon Utopia by Ron Regé, Jr.
Ron Regé, Jr., The Cartoon Utopia p. 16, panel 6, January 20, 2009, 7" x 8.5"
Ron Regé, Jr., studied at the Massachusetts College of Art and started making comics in 1988 while he was a student there. Since then, he has published several books, including The Dum Dum Posse Reader (Nib Books, 1994), Skibber Bee-Bye (Highwater Books, 2000), Against Pain (Drawn & Quarterly, 2008), and The Cartoon Utopia (Fantagraphics Books, 2012) from which came the panel above. In addition, he has published numerous issues of his mini-comic Yeast Hoist and the comic book Boys (with Joan Reidy), appeared in numerous anthologies, drawn illustrations for numerous periodicals including the New York Times Op-Ed page, played in bands including Lavender Diamond, designed the sets and credits for We Can Do It! and even designed a beer label for Alchemic Ale.
Early on, Regé, like a lot of the Fort Thunder artists who were becoming active around the same time, had a highly abstracted drawing style, which included a hyperactive mark-making that gave his panels a vibratory quality. Everything in a Regé comic felt alive. His story-telling was likewise abstract--characters (such as the Dum Dum Posse) were more symbols or change agents than persons. These qualities have remained a constant in his work, but his drawing has evolved into a more architectural style, and the implicit mysticism of his work has become explicit as Regé has become interested in shamanism, alchemy and esoteric thought. The Cartoon Utopia deals with these subjects.
One of my first attempts to link comics and art critically was in a pamphlet I wrote, Ron Regé and His Precursors (Westhampton House, 2000). Regé's work has been an important part of my own growth as a critical reader of comics.