Mary Fleener is much more than a cartoonist, when I first ran into her work I found it to be a mix of what I’d understood as true art, stuff you’d see in galleries and lowbrow, underground art… her work, slutburger to be specific showed me, I should say illustrated the no rules to the underground arts.
her comix are political, and surreal, and beautiful, and that’s not easy. but, in a creative way she does.
what is underground art?
Underground art is not part of the over-saturated mainstream tools used to sell commercial products. Underground art is provocative, and, if it’s good, it should burn a hole in your brain.
are there rules or a set of ethics to the underground?
I don’t think there should be any rules, otherwise, it wouldn’t be “underground”, however I think it should challenge the status quo, and question authority.
what is selling out?
Doing something you know is tacky, but you’re doing it anyway, and it’s not always a paying situation, either.
can underground go above ground and still be underground?
Nope, not technically.
have you ever sold out?
Yes, I did. My girlfriend’s mother owned VJ Records, and had a bunch of photos of John Lennon shaking hands with the president of VJ, around 1964 or so. Right after Lennon was shot, her mother decided to cash in on the tragedy and sell the photos, so my girlfriend asked me to draw a portrait of Lennon to be used in an ad to sell the pictures. I still get red faced when I think about this, and you’re the first person I’ve told it to!!
is it possible to steal an idea?
It’s called “appropriation” if you want to be sneaky about it. I know this tattoo artist that completely ripped off my painting style, and he claims I’m his “muse”. So, artists steal all the time, and used all sorts of bullshit to justify it. And it’s always lame.
your biggest artistic regret?
I signed a development deal with Nickelodeon to turn one of my comics into a Saturday morning kid show. That was a major fail!! Thank goodness they passed on the idea. I was not suited for the world of Hollywood, even though I was born there!
your biggest artistic inspiration?
what is dangerous art?
Ya got me. I guess if you live in Saudi Arabia and you’re a woman who paints sex scenes, you’d be in a world of trouble.
bonus question… nature or nurture?
Nature. It will be here long after we’re all dead.