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Pulp Fiction: Matt Leines’s You Are Forgiven

With its lion’s head, scorpion’s tail, ox’s midsection, tortoise’s shell, and six stubby bear legs, artist Matt Leines’s illustration of a Mediterranean creature called the Tarasque in Beasts! Two looks like something he made up himself - at least judging by the amazing monsters, shamans, warriors, tigers, and buildings with eyes that populate the pages of his amazing debut monograph, You Are Forgiven (Free News Projects).


Leines’s obsessive patterns, ziggurats, and electrical bolts suggest Babylonian mythology filtered through Mexican peyote visions. Born in 1980, the Rhode Island School of Design graduate does a lot with his relatively small, yet magnificently reconfigured, alphabet of shapes, symbols, and colors. Buildings contain the faces of warriors who cut the hearts out of tigers whose heads in turn sit atop shamans struck dead by bolts thrown by “lightning men” with the heads of buildings containing faces. And so on.


Both epic and a little cheesy at once (his characters’ limbs are depicted as though hinged like two-dimensional dime-store puppets), Leines’s installations and drawings suggest moments captured from a much larger narrative whose full scope may never be revealed. Full of blood and guts and magic, You Are Forgiven is a beastly masculine power trip for the ages.


Pulp Fiction: The Best of 2008

Not so much comics as beautifully drawn and colored portraits of archaic and mythological characters that appear to deserve full-blown books of their own. Each page resembles a panel from some lost sequential masterpiece.


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