Monsters: zombies, werewolves, vampires, creatures from beyond the grave or not of this Earth. Whatever they are, one thing is for certain – they are a part of our culture, a shared fascination with the things that go bump in the night. Artist Billy Tackett knows monsters. Monsters speak to him. Not in the way the White Album spoke to Charles Manson, but in the way any muse might speak to an artist, in a stirring of the imagination. Billy’s art often depicts monsters, but he interprets them in his own way, bringing them to life in his drawings and paintings. He takes the familiar, such as the image of Uncle Sam from old army recruiting posters, and twists it into something new, a dark reflection that is uniquely his own.
Now Billy Tackett has released a book that showcases his art. “For the Love of Monsters” is done in the graphic novel format. Each page either tells something about Billy, about his art, or showcases his work. And what a body of work it is: paintings, drawings, t-shirt designs, the covers of books; Billy Tackett has draw them all and his book highlights some of the best. Zombie Sam, Fannie the Flesheater, Cannibal Claus – some of the works he’s best know for are in there. But that’s not all. The book also shows his roots, sketches of his family, places from his childhood, images of his life outside the world of monsters; art that, side by side with his work in horror, paints a picture of the man behind the paintbrush and how his talent for the macabre came to be.
“For the Love of Monsters” is a unique book that gives the reader a chance to admire some of Billy Tackett’s best work, while at the same time learning about the man himself. Printed on high quality paper, each page is a story unto itself that looks fit for framing. In fact, Billy put his creativity to work not just in the images for the book but its design as well. Each page has a weathered look that, combined with the old style typeset and ‘scrapbook notations’ create a sense that you’re looking through something personal rather than something published, perhaps a journal or family album. It is difficult to say more about the book, because although it does contain many insightful anecdotes and interesting facts, it is a book of art and as such must be seen to be fully appreciated. If you have an eye for ‘dark art’ or if the monsters still speak to you, then you should take a look at “For the Love of Monsters.” It’s more than just the art of Billy Tackett; it’s a peek behind the curtain at the mind behind the macabre.