• Preston Cram

The Plague King (Part 1 of 2)



I spent most of 2020 working away on pure dark fantasy art, eventually arriving at a 19" x 24" piece that I was highly enthused about at first but fell out of love with more than once as I struggled to come up with new imagery to pack into it.


As progress slowed, I finally had to concede that I was bored by the arbitrary content. I needed to inject something into the art to give it more of a cerebral element, a deeper layer of meaning and interest beyond just dark fantasy for the sake of dark fantasy.


In art school I was fond of creating brightly colored pieces with aspects of cartooning and social satire, and for years I've felt there should be some way to mash those things together with my dark fantasy art, I just never figured out what it was.



I'll write a much longer, standalone post soon discussing the details of what I'm aiming to accomplish with this new direction and how I arrived at it. For now, it's sufficient to say that in recent years I've grown to be a junky for news articles and I'm increasingly fascinated by media representations of political figures, our perception of political figures based on that news media, as well as the psychology/neuroscience of outrage culture and our deeply polarized political state in the US.


I'm eager to explore all of those things in my artwork moving forward while still retaining the visual influences from comic books and heavy metal, effectively finding ways to bring media depictions of social and political topics to life in an over-the-top dark fantasy setting.



My first effort toward that goal is The Plague King, a piece based on the liberal news media's depiction of Trump and his relationship to Covid-19, particularly late last year when Trump contracted the virus himself.


I actually finished this image around New Year's when the stories that inspired it were a little fresher, though I waffled a bit on whether this new direction with political themes was something I felt I could dive into and sustain the way I wanted.


I've since eliminated any doubts that this is the path forward for me creatively. I've been able to gain traction on a few other ideas and build up a lot of enthusiasm for this direction in general, so The Plague King feels like a solid starting point.


I'll get into details about some of the specific symbolism in this one when I post the color version in two weeks, but for now check out the final line art.



Plenty more to dig into on all this soon!