In this bi-weekly column, we highlight doodlers, scribblers and scrawlers from the Seattle area. If you have any comics or animations you think we should know about, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I walked into Cairo for Expo 91 earlier this month, there hanging on the wall was a giant Pokémon card.
Over there in the corner, hand stiched out of pieces of fabric from second-hand clothing, mounted on the back of a banner celebrating the marriage of Princess Di and Prince Charles, was Hitmonchan.
Even the punching Pokémon's holographic status was lovingly replicated using shiny star stickers.
It was a strangely hypnotic piece—I couldn't help but study all the little details I'd missed as a kid from the original card. Did you know Hitmonchan was 4'7" and weighed 111 lbs? Watching one fight in a battle would be like watching a middle schooler in a boxing match.
Carlos M. Ruiz, the man behind the Hitmonchan piece, claims he is an artist who doesn't really like art. "I don't get art," he says.
When he got the call to be in the curated show accompying Cairo's Expo 91 Festival, he took the theme as literally as possible.
"The theme of the show was 'Things you could do without' and I realized I had seven Hitmonchan cards," Ruiz, told me. "My co-worker gave me a tacklebox full of her old Pokémon cards and there were so many Hitmonchans. I don't really think about any deeper meaning in my work. I just make whatever excites me at the moment and I try not to think about it too much."
That messy, spur of the moment tendency is part of what makes Ruiz's art so fun. When he isn't experimenting with strange hand sewn art, he's drawing psyched out landscapes and clouds in his sketchbook—many of which make their way onto the telephone poles of Seattle.
Chances are if you have ever walked down Pike Street, you've seen some of Ruiz's work. That's because since 2005, he's done posters for countless Seattle bands: Mudhoney, Rose Windows, MTNS, Wimps, Grave Babies, Night Beats and way too many others to list here. To date, he's done some 40 album covers and 300 posters for bands and events locally, as well as nationally for Austin Psych Fest, SXSW and Converse.
Ruiz originally started out drawing comics. He read Silver Surfer, Hellboy, and Captain America, and started doodling on his own. Eventually, he met a friend who taught him the secret art of tweaking Xerox machines, which he quickly integrated into his own work by layering old photo clippings with intricate hand-drawn patterns.
Quietly, he's been crafting his own "psych comics," which he calls Fungi Girl.
"Fungi Girl is just an excuse for me to draw a lot of backgrounds, which is what I really enjoy," Ruiz says. "It's kind of like Little Nemo—there's a lot of wandering and there really isn't a story arc."
Quite literally, the comics are about a girl who is tripping mushrooms, jaunting through a morphing, drippy world full of temple ruins and Russian architecture. Ruiz pressed his first one into a zine, which he quickly ran out of. Luckily, he uploaded issue one of the comic online.
Ruiz is currently working on more Fungi Girl and catching up on some more Silver Surfer comics, but hopes later this year to craft a show featuring custom made patches on denim jackets.
"I've been getting more into the sewing thing and I would really like to start making more back patches," Ruiz says, "I just think patches are a cool medium."