SPIT PICKS #1 – SPIDER'S PEE-PAW, Rüff Haus Supplement #1, and FORMAL HOARD – the works of Ben Mendelewicz, Char Esme, Xela Flactem, Esteban Neumann, and more

Hola comrades,

Tonight on the first installment of Spit Picks, I present to you some CUTTING-EDGE comics work of the FUTURE. 


Edited by Ben Mendelewicz and Char Esme, SPIDER’S PEE-PAW #1 is a computer-art-and-collage-driven comic anthology featuring the works of Lauren Poor, Xela Flactem 3, John Gutierrez, Esteban Neumann, Mark Mathews, and Mendelewicz and Esme themselves.

I’ve been following these guys’ various art projects and collaborations for several years now, since the release of Tumbleweave’s DEMON SQUEEZE (which I believe Ben is in) and Butt-Dilly #1. I’m pretty sure when SPIDER’S PEE-PAW debuted in February, most if not all of these guys were still in college, which only adds to the impressive results of this editioned and bound art and comic-experiment. The work to me reflects the spirit of Being-at-Art-School, and I mean that in the best way possible. No fucks are given as Medelewicz and crew romp through the pages of the anthology, with crudely written story lines, deranged characters, and a great deal of experimentation with the traditionally ink on paper medium. The  non-linear, random story-lines may make the comic work more difficult to digest, but that doesn’t even matter. What does matter is that work takes comics to a place they rarely get to hang out in.


Above: Excerpt from “Grinners” by Ben Mendelewicz, featured in SPIDER’S PEE-PAW #1

The experimentation with 3d-computer-art used throughout the various works in SPIDER’S PEE-PAW is reminiscent of the conceptual/abstracted digital art pieces that I’ve seen at galleries, but with a way weirder (and better) sense of humor. Meanwhile, the overarching themes yell “Overconsumption!”, “Sex!”, “Materialism!”, and well, the general ridiculousness of our vain & privileged culture a la artists Ryan Trecartin, Paper Rad, and the late Mike Kelley.


Above: an excerpt from “Bad Sex” by Xela Flactem, featuring a Jesus + Brat Doll + Regular Joe who mates with a bald white female mannequin to create the perfect baby-doll specimen (or I’m pretty sure that’s what happens), featured in SPIDER’S PEE-PAW #1.


In the same reign as SPIDER’S PEE-PAW, lies Rüff Haus Supplement #1, which lists its editor-in-Chief as “Blackie Santiago”, aka John Gutierrez.


Rüff Haus is a parody Adult Supplement (STRICTLY ADULTS ONLY), in the vein of something National Lampoon might have produced in the early 70s. Fake and/or Real ads (I honestly can’t tell) sprinkle the interiors with taglines like “DO ME THE HARD & FUNK WAY – 1-800-FUNKY” and “WE CUM IN PEACE – ALIEN TWO-TIMING IN TIME AND SPACE DVD”. Then there are several ‘erotic’ features that revel in their absurdity. Whether they go too far I think depends on the sexual orientation of the creators, for a lot of the humor comes at the expense of homo-erotic underground culture, which may be fine if the contributors are queer themselves, but not so much if they ain’t.


Above: Excerpt from “Horse Play” by Ben Mendelewicz and Char Esme.

Below: “All a Prisoner has is Time” by Esteban Neumann.



Lastly, I bring your attention to FORMAL HOARD by Ben Mendelewicz


This mini-zine is a collection of collages, with digital interiors and a screenprinted acetate cover.

Mendelewicz’s densely saturated collages seem in step with the collages of Björn Copeland, likely drawing samples from various magazine advertisements and other consumer artifacts from the last 20 years (perhaps a cereal box or a deck of pogs?). Importantly, the composition and balance of the collages keep the viewer from falling into a tunnel of over-stimulation and confusion, instead remaining a pleasant and manageable viewing-experience. A Formal Hoard, it is.


Above: A page from “Formal Hoard”

Bottom Line: If you’re interested in the interaction between contemporary abstraction, digital art, and comics, get yourself a copy of SPIDER’S PEE-PAW and keep your eye on this crew for their future projects and progress into the vastly unexplored realm of the bizarre.




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