Name: Jon F. Allen
Bio: I’ve been mining and creating cultural detritus since I was old enough to handle pencil and pen. Along the way I obtained some fine arts degrees.
“All of life is struggle, of course, and Jon’s deftly rendered mutants are struggling up one heck of a storm. Struggling with each other, struggling with nature, struggling to get out of their own fucking skin. It leaves a hell of a mess, with all of your favorite bodily fluids competing as signifiers.” – David E. Williams, www.davidewilliams.com
Select links: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/jonfallen
What themes and concepts does your work generally revolve around?
Devilry, societal upheaval, war, the Catholic Church, nuns, runes, UFOs, conspiracies, drugs, black ops, violence, sick humor, funerals, bad taste, true crime, death scene photos, bizarro/demonic sexual interactions between mutants and mongoloids, freaks, medical horror, and so on.
What materials do you work with?
Ink on paper, acrylic on wood, sculpey, video cam, Korg synth, Gibson guitar, various recording software. While I will mention various projects, I am mainly focusing on my drawings/comix for this interview.
What are you currently working on?
I am promoting my book of drawings The Heaven of Hell as much as I can. Piles of drawings have been collected in plastic bins over the years. More were being created. Serbian artist and movie director DV Nikt saw some of the pile and encouraged me to consider myself to be a comix artist and publish a book. He came up with the title and I went with it. Some of his own comix art is also included in my book. Last week I finished artwork for Far Triloquist, a music collaboration between musician poet and accomplished pianist David E. Williams and me. We both schlepped some lyrics and ideas together and kaboom! Something new was born. We’ll be releasing it in the near future. He came up with the great and outlandish name for the project, Far Triloquist. It’s the first music recording project I’ve done entirely by sending audio files back and forth through emails. And it is certainly the weirdest music project! The artwork is intended to reflect that. Also, I’m working on cover art for experimental Riot Grrrl band Dental Dames’ next CD. Getting ready to release a film I wrote, directed and created animations for. It’s titled Damned Wear headphones. Produced and edited by a fellow who goes by the name of Industrial Scorpion Film and Design. More great and inestimable people are also involved. Here are some of them: Dennis Jaybendy stars, cinematography by Malachi Matcho, and sound mixing by Jamaal Green. Notably, Shari Vari (Void Vision), Miss Adrina Marie (David E. WIlliams Ensemble Experience Project), David E. Williams, and myself make up the soundtrack. Just shot video for the West Philly rapper known as Dedzik. Can’t wait to edit that. Lastly, I just sent two drawings to Rich Hillen Jr. for his Serial Killer Coloring Book, Richard Ramirez edition. Keep an eye out for that! https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Serial-Killer-Coloring-Book/183339901677364
What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
Depending on the drawing, my rituals are reading and research or tapping into the zanier, more surrealist goings on of my mind (or both at once). I don’t take illegal drugs (one of my favorite compliments was from a twenty-something guy who bought my book at an event. He said, “Wow, man! You must get your artistic inspiration from smoking crack!”) Usually, a drawing starts with a cup of coffee and continues with a cd set to repeat. Going for long walks helps rejuvenate me for more creation.
What’s your art background?
My parents taught me how to draw early on. They were very encouraging. My Dad had studied art, and could draw anything. For example, I showed him an X-men comic and asked him if he could draw Cyclops. He did it in ink without even laying down pencils first. It came out perfect. Drawing became a compulsion when I was going through Catholic School. It was really like a drug that helped me deal with all the bullying and crap that I endured in classes, the lunchroom, and the playground. Yet, it was drawing that caused me even more problems at home and school when they became violent or “dirty.” I was on a steady diet of heavy metal album cover art, Horror movies, Wacky Packages, Garbage Pail Kids, Mad, National Lampoon, Marvel Comics, and the occasional porno mag I was lucky enough to get my underage hands on. The bullies at school raided my desk whenever I was out sick. The teachers and the Principal were very hostile about my drawing habit. The principal collected everything in one giant pile. My Mother was called in to meet with her. My Mother was aghast at the idiocy of that woman! Later, I was told by other kids that my drawings were dumped in an incinerator that was attached to the outside of the building. To this day, that incinerator makes me think of concentration camp ovens in Nazi era Germany.
Didn’t begin art school until the end of my twenties. Worked my way to the MFA degree. Learned a lot along the way, but ultimately have returned to ink on paper in a big way.
What’s been happening in your life?
I am focused, somewhat reclusive, and very obsessed with my work. This way of being helped me finish my book. I’ve been selling them at some fests and events such as Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market. That went very well. Some comic shops carry them too. In addition, my friend DV Nikt brought copies with him to Belgrade. He was having a big retrospective of his cinematic works, and performed his music. He was interviewed on television by and got to hang out with renowned Serbian comix writer/artist Aleksandar Zograf. Zograf”s style is very journalistic, but also very subjective (he even depicts his dreams). He worked on diary comix while living through the war that ripped through Serbia. Mr. Nikt gave Mr. Zograf a few copies of my book, and Mr. Zograf dug my work. It is a mega thrill to know that.
What’s next for you?
More books of my work, more t-shirts, more stuff for sale, more movie screenings.
Describe your current state of mind.
Ugh, bring me some coffee. Ha ha.
What’s inspiring you?
Humor, repulsion, hate, observation, love, comics, cartoons, television, music…
Do you have any exhibits coming up/past exhibits you’d like to mention?
I’m a bit done with exhibits but won’t rule it out. I recently finished my final curation. Pterodactyl Philly gallery hosted. It was the third in a trilogy: Containment Policy (co-curated with Dr. K. Malcolm Richards), It’s Your Funeral (also co-curated with Dr. K.), and All Along the Watchtower (co-curated with David E. Williams, Mary Coyle, and Brian Spies). This effort spanned three years, For more info I recommend the show essays found at these links:
http://www.jonfallen.com/It-sYourFuneral-K-MalcolmRichards.html Links to All Along the Watchtower can be found here
Been in a decent amount of Shows, but I have two favorites:
1.) Art Inspired by Nikola Tesla group show at Germ Books and Gallery, 2010
2.) Solitary Pleasures, curated by K. Malcolm Richards and Osvaldo Romberg at Slought Foundation. That happened around March/April 2010. More info at
No upcoming exhibits, but I have framed prints for sale at Randy Now’s Man Cave at 134 Farnsworth Avenue, Bordentown, NJ.
Is any of your work political?
Politics are about careerists who corral a herd while persistently conditioning them to maintain the herd mentality. I am not ideologically aligned with any political party. How can anyone be? They are all so inconsistent. However, as an artist I feel greatly compelled to make images/statements, and essays that are critical of injustices. The fracking debacle, still expanding and destroying communities in the United States, was key in my co-curating with Dr. K. Malcolm a solo exhibit of Brian Spies at The Hex Factory in Fishtown/Philly. Brian grew up in Williamsport, PA where fracking is the mode of the day. His work consisted of what I like to call crime scene photos of the drilling operations, as well as enlarged, redacted New York Times articles. As curator, I placed it upon myself to write a show essay. This could have been a simple task or general overview, but the sociopathic drilling companies and politicians angered me so much that I aggressively researched the matter until it stressed me to the brink of sanity (plus, the deadline was short). My essay can be found here: http://www.jonfallen.com/The-Garden-of-Eden-by-Jon-F–Allen.html
More recently, I was motivated by the news that Nadya of the Russian agit-prop/performance art punk band Pussy Riot had disappeared within the prison system. This frightened and infuriated me! A young woman sent to prison, and possibly a gulag, for an art crime that maybe should have only culminated into a mere fine! I drew a picture about it with Putin depicted as a pig with the hammer and sickle of his KGB days emblazoned on his forehead. The tyrannical crown of the Christian Czars adorns the top of his head. The spokesperson for the Russian Orthodox church is depicted as a rat. These people call themselves Christians in name only. If they truly believed in their fairy tale Jesus they would have sat down with the women and engaged in a dialogue. For every framed Pussy Riot print I sell, I will be sending 5 dollars to the Pussy Riot support fund.
It would be too easy to think, “Shwew! At least I live in America! Nothing like that will ever happen to me!” Yet, consider the case of Comics artist Mike Diana. Lived in Florida, got busted for selling his comics zines, went to court, heavily fined, ordered to take ethics in journalism classes, police allowed to raid his house anytime without a warrant and confiscate his drawings.
However, I am not primarily a political artist. It is wise to pay attention to the goings on of one’s locale and the world, but always have plenty of room for Betty Boop, Daffy Duck, Popeye, and The Three Stooges.
What are you trying to communicate with your art?
I offer a funhouse mirror reflection of reality. What underscores the cartoonish, grotesque, obscene, blasphemous, disfigured violence and sex is the fact that we really are base, pathetic animals. We try to seek redemption through our intellectual pursuits, and mythologies. There are those among us who hope a God will save them from their own shit stink and putrefaction. But it’s really like the National Lampoon song “Deteriorata”: “You are a fluke of the universe. You have no right to be here. And whether you can hear it or not, the universe is laughing behind your back.” The majority of my work is made because it makes me laugh my ass off. I hope viewers will have as deeply a sick sense of humor as me, but also a fascination with grotesquerie, weirdness, and surrealism. But again, there are also pieces intended as serious social commentary. As I cross the rickety bridge over the abyss of nihilism in order to make my own meaning of life I still kinda give a crap.
What is one of the biggest challenges you face as an artist?
Time, money, people, schedules. I get more done in a more efficient amount of time when I do things myself, but sometimes I need a team. I cut a lot of corners so I often don’t have to spend money. Time is a relentless hellhound.
How has the meaning of your work changed over time?
I grew up Catholic and it permanently warped my brain. Rather than having changed, the meaning of my work has evolved through life experiences. Catholicism is still dealt with in my work, but I don’t feel like I’m losing my mind over it anymore. The beast is under control. The pen is my beast medicine, and my worldview is Satanic. There are other experiences I’ve dealt with or been traumatized by–things that have made their way into my work in various contexts. There are things I just don’t want to discuss, and those things can become the monsters and violence depicted in my drawings and paintings. I wrote the essay “It could be your funeral” for the exhibit It’s your funeral that I co-curated. Looking back, I’m stunned I got through it. The deaths of family members is dealt with in sad, gruesome detail. My essays communicate about reality in a very direct way.
What do you dislike about your work?
I like it too much. Sometimes I sit at the drawing table laughing like a loon in need of a padded cell. Other times, I push myself so hard that it hurts. I worked on three drawings that I required myself to tinily write text copied from Jeremy Scahill’s book on Blackwater Security. I was hunched over. My back hurt. My hand cramped up really bad. A voice in my head said, “Damn you, rotten bastard! I want these done in time for the All Along the Watchtower show! Get them done, damn you! These have to be in the show! The fucking show is about villainy for crying out loud! Blackwater needs to be in there! Damn you, bastard! Get those drawings done now!”
I disliked that, but they got done. Geesh.
Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?
I would like to try my hand at taxidermy.
What is your dream project?
Would like to write and direct an over-the-top S & M porn film about seriously disturbed Catholic nuns. It would have a plot. The nuns would be multi-dimensional characters. Unless you’re a hormonal teenager, the majority of porn out there is nauseating. It’s like, who the hell are these people? I may as well be watching dogs fuck on the road. A plot is needed. Scenes of conversation and seduction are needed. Otherwise, all you have is objectification. No substance. For instance, I am very fascinated by Sasha Grey, but not while she’s being gang banged in one of her many porn films (although, she did take the genre to a very athletic/acrobatic level). For me, Sasha is most alluring in interviews. She discusses books, ideas, and music. She also proved she could be a dramatic actress in mainstream cinema. Plus, I dig her dark ambient noise band aTelecine. Perhaps another dream project would be to work with Sasha Grey on film or music.
Are you involved with any organizations?
No. Although, if The Eris Temple could be considered an organization then that is one I am involved with. It is located at 602 S 52nd street near Cedar in West Philly. I met Lora Bloom and Kenny Brown at the Nikola Tesla inspired group art show at Germ Books and Gallery in Fishtown. Lora described her and Kenny’s band and directed me to where the CD was being sold in the store. Radio Eris: Broadcast Muse. It is a pleasing fusion of psychedelia, punk, poetry, and experimentation. Before I knew it, I had been to several of their exciting and colorful shows. Eventually, we collaborated on the video for their song “Chip Mind” from the album At Your Service. “Chip Mind” and an interview I conducted with them can be seen here http://www.jonfallen.com/Radio-Eris-Chip-Mind-Interview.html Another Radio Eris vid is in the planning stages. Please Keep an eye out this Holiday season for selling events at Eris Temple. I have prints for sale there now. Check out their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eris-Temple-Arts/106865082707217
Do you collaborate with other artists?
My favorite collaborators are DV Nikt, David E. Williams, Radio Eris, Gruesome Twosome, Miss Adrina Marie, Dental Dames, My brother Tim, Dr. K. Malcolm Richards, The Hex Factory, Industrial Scorpion Film and Design, Rich Hillen Jr., Mary Coyle, Brian Spies, Dedzik, Malachi Matcho, Dennis Jaybendy, Jamaal Green, Jon Canady, and Scott Norman. I am not doing anymore video work other than what I already have on my plate, but will happily consider drawing your next CD cover! Email me via my FB page. Link provided at top of interview. Have cash ready. No cards or personal checks.
What are a few of your favorite spots in your area?
The drawing table, the television, the fridge, the microwave, and the toilet. Sometimes the basement. A young woman once told me that I am a monster who should crawl back into my basement and stay there. I take that as a compliment. I paint in the basement.
Favorite artists and why? People in your field whom you most admire:
Joe Coleman’s harrowing illuminations. They are filled with painted memory compartments as image and text. Intellect, anger, schizophrenia, sex, rage, serial killers, freaks–it’s all there!
Howard Finster’s Christ, Santa, and UFO paintings; Hideshi Hino’s ghoulish Horror comics; Mike Diana’s absurdist, homicidal psycho-sexual images; Basil Wolverton’s depictions of weird horror, creatures, and the end times; Suehiro Maruo’s refined depictions of fetishistic sex and violence; the garish and hellish protest paintings of George Grosz; the mad mad worlds of Robert Williams; Bosch; Kirby; Crumb; “Ghastly” Graham Ingels….I could go on and on.
What are you reading?
Regards from Serbia by Aleksandar Zograf. Just started digging into This Incredible Need to Believe by Julia Kristeva and As Naughty as She Wants to be by Roberta Gregory.
Favorite authors, fiction:
Edgar Allan Poe, Michael Gira, Baudelaire, Stephen King, Philip K. Dick, Celine, Bukowski.
Favorite authors, nonfiction:
Nietzsche, Foucault, Harold Schechter, Anton LaVey, Kristeva, Freud, Baudelaire, Bukowski.
I never see certain writers as dogmatic. I take what I can use and throw the rest away.
Favorite comic strips/ comic books/ graphic novels?
EC horror and sci-fi comics; The Wolverton Bible; Muzzlers, Guzzlers, and Good Yeggs; Weathercraft; Boiled Angel; Panorama of Hell; Ultra-Gash Inferno; The Dark Knight Returns; Gotham Central; Detective Comics; World of Krypton; Watchmen; Captain America; Claremont era X-Men; Weirdo; Zap; Squeak the Mouse; Cabbie.
What are you listening to these days?
In the past few weeks these musicians were spinning in my cd player or rolling in the tape deck: Siouxsie and The Banshees, Black Sabbath, Diamanda Galas, Eno, Laibach, Ozzy Osbourne, Residents, Eyehategod, Murder Junkies, Danzig, Klaus Schulze, Red Aunts, Alice Cooper, Mercyful Fate, Renaissance, Genocide Organ, E.N., Motorhead, Dedzik, Judas Priest, Motley Crue, Dernier Volante, DV Nikt, David E. Williams, Radio Eris, Fort Grief, and The Red Masque.
What was the last show you attended?
Dental Dames live at The Eris Temple.
What was the last exhibit you attended?
Magritte retrospective at MOMA.
What was the first piece of artwork you bought/ do you buy a lot of artwork?
I honestly can’t remember, but it was more than likely something traded or purchased from a friend. Maybe a print or drawing. Who knows? I don’t really collect much art, unless action figures, toys, and odd stuff are considered art. I see it as art. Others may not.
Recently, I acquired a G.G. ALLIN bobblehead. I’m astounded! The artist even took care to sculpt and paint G.G.s piss and shit! Quite a totem to have nearby while I’m creating!