Jesse Balmer’s website notes he “has been drawing since before he can remember,” and it’s possible he was that kid you sat next to in middle school whose notebooks constantly overflowed with alien warriors, intergalactic battles, and all kinds of anthropomorphic beings, battleborgs, robots or animals. No longer chastised by his teacher for doodling up a storm of pictures instead of taking history notes, suffice it to say, that kid is now all grown up and is kicking some serious crayon.
His work and the presentation of it varies from comic book layout to sketchbook, from magazine illustration to what he has dubbed “Fine Art,” a fascinating collection of futuristic airplane-bird-insects in various stages of battle, black-and-white drawings of disembodied creature heads in all manner of creepy sci-fi-gone-wrong expressions (think: The Island of Dr. Moreau), and a cast of characters fit for a post-apocalyptic universe where aliens, animals, or some combination rule the universe.
Particularly memorable is the repetition of a kind of cat/dog/man/bear with a square head (and ears) who makes appearances regularly. He (he?) can be found in states as diverse as in supplication, showing off the loss of his severed hand, reaching inside the hole where his chest should be, and/or celebrating some unseen victory, dagger held high, as he rides his trusty steed (see: airplane-bird-insecty-thing.)
Each piece is a step into the haunting, grotesque, and drippy world Balmer has set out for us, where familiar items like blood, daggers, and starry skies intermingle with abstract shapes, multi-eyed “faces” (or representations of faces), and fantastical beings whose bodies blend into one pulsating, raw scene. So take that, Mrs. Spracklin, Jesse Balmer is here and here to stay – and no, he doesn’t want to take history notes. He’ll be making his own, thankyouverymuch. And it will be awesome.
© W. Laurie Ewer