OK, fans of my art, of my Mara comics, and of Barefoot Justine… here’s the skinny, I am a starving artist, and I really need monthly patrons, even $5 or $10 a month can be a HUGE help to me as I try and maintain my Bohemian barefoot lifestyle, as I try and remain true to my artistic vision.
I am asking any of you who have loved my blog, me, my work, to consider becoming a patron of the arts.
Go here, look into it, my patrons get lots of cool exclusive stuff, too! My Patreon site is finally fully functioning, the benefits are regularly coming to my patrons, and I am wholly committed to creating the kind of comics I want to see, a barefoot heroine enduring all the trials and victories of Exploitation cinema style adventure mixed with mysticism and my own vision.
These entries are meant to compliment the on-camera video flip-through (TOP) I did with Tom Hart for the unfinished relaunch of my highly personal Mara comics series. At first we thought we might edit in close-ups and images from the artists that influenced me, but it seemed that a better treatment was to write accompanying blogs so the viewer can perhaps come in closer, or at least spend more time with the images I want to spotlight.
Before even going into the first page of the new Mara, I spent some time discussing “Classic Mara,” if something as utterly ignored and low-selling as my Mara can ever be considered “classic.”
Regardless, that old Mara project came from the heart, and it kept me “sane,” and drove me nuts at the same time… and kept me poor. But I felt I had something to say then, and then I thought it was important. Now, I have something to say, but being older… I no longer suffer from the delusion that it will be in any way “important.” As I often say, “I wanted to leave a mark, but I fear all I’ve left is a stain.” What kept me doing it even while it was being so utterly dismissed was that I had never seen anything like it. In other words, as familiar as I was with Exploitation Cinema, eroticism, and comics in that style, nothing sated my thirst, ONLY Mara did that. My unique vision was what kept me going.
Here she is, good old Mara! The image below was done about the time I had begun to burn out, it’s hard to believe now, but I abandoned this page because I thought it was lousy…
Classic Unfinished Mara by Justine
The first page of the “New Mara” was inspired by my experiences with the psychedelic DMT, experiences which ended a couple years back. The problem with translating these experiences into art is that the DMT experience does not translate into the limitations of this reality. The DMT experience is not about seeing and hearing things, it’s more about BEING things. And worse, the DMT experience is a lot like having a handful of gold in the cave of wonders, gold that quickly turns to dust once you exit the cave.
How does one draw that which cannot be grasped, that which cannot be described or defined, or even remembered? About all an artist can do is try and recreate what the experience felt like.
I found the image below, and while it is not what I experienced, it came far closer than anything else I have seen. But imagine if the image below were in motion, the colors rotating, luminesce, and wholly immersive. All I could find to credit the artist was that it was done by “Beacon.”
I think if you look at the 2nd panel of the first page you will see that I did a variation on this image, but chose to reference the trunk of the Hindu deity Ganesh. Also note the floating circles and how they pan across all 6 of the lower panels.
Justine Mara Andersen’s Mara Page 1 Detail
The grid underneath was intended to help me maintain symmetry, but I am thinking I might ink it in, it seems now to be a part of the drawing.
I was asked just yesterday if the DMT experience changed me for the better or for the worse. I stammered, and had to say that every action comes with consequences, some could be seen as positive, some as negative. All I know is that the changes have been profound and utterly irreversible. What I have learned from DMT has expanded me, and somewhat frightened me, it’s not something that should be undertaken lightly. Was it for the best or for the worst? I don’t know, but I don’t regret it.
In this video I’m showing you how I live, where I work, and a little bit about who I am. Who is this madwoman creating Exploitation comics in this day and age? Just me… Justine Mara Andersen.
You’ll be seeing my room, my “psychedelic pad,” my “little slice of paradise.” Eclectic as the setting may be whenever I watch Bollywood movies in my room at night… the movies just seem to settle right into the decor, and at times it’s hard to tell where the movie ends and the room begins, especially when watching Sanjay Leela Bhansali films. At night, when the curtains are pulled, the room takes on an exotic magic that feels quite different from the vacation in paradise setting of the daylight hours.
And definitely the forest around my room has been integrated into the decor. The yellows and greens play about on the walls creating a seamlessness between the interior and exterior.
In fact, the below photo was taken directly from my room. My nearest neighbors are animals, deer, bald eagles, hawks, alligators, wild turkeys, and lots of little lizards and gorgeous green tree frogs.
I took this picture from my window, a great view right into the forest. (pic by Justine Mara Andersen)
Mara Medievalist (by Justine)
And here, in this setting, in this room, is where I do my work, my drawing and my dreaming. In many ways, this relaunch of Mara seems like an exercise in madness.
Many might ask, why return to a project that was wholly ignored, sold poorly, and has been ultimately forgotten?
There is no logical answer, other than the one French exploitation director Jean Rollin gave me when I asked him why he kept creating under such adversity, he told me, if I don’t write or make films, I die.
When I began Mara back in 1989 (or so) I knew nothing about her or her world, nor did I know how to draw or tell a story. Of course the image above is from one of the last Mara books, and is quite accomplished, but in so many ways Mara has never left me. Even if the rest of the world chose to ignore her, and ignore me as an artist, she and I have always been one.
And even if many want to call me out for “sexualization” or being somehow anti-feminist for drawing good old fashioned romantic erotic fantasy, Exploitation, I no longer care because that, too is part of me. I don’t do this for money, I don’t do this because “sex sells,” or to be a “sell-out,” I do this because it’s the truth of who I am.
Be careful when judging a person’s art, when assuming their motives. Very often the anger of the viewer is the only lens through which they can see art that does not conform to their ideologies.
I guess if you don’t like Mara, you don’t like me, and you know what, that’s fine by me. As deep as I am into this incarnation, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that I no longer expect to be loved by all.
All I can do is love what I do and tell the truth, and let the chips fall where they may.
Oh, and funny note about the above Mara panel… that word balloon “I feel like a Victorian” was a direct reference to how dismissive David X Cohen was of my work when a friend delivered it to his desk in the hopes that I might be able to find work with the Simpsons (by the way, I had sent in cartooning samples, not just Mara), he tossed it aside and said, “It’s too Victorian.” Well like when Lennon said all McCartney did was write silly love songs and Paul wrote “Silly Love Songs” in response, I did the same here.