Fiends With Benefits

The art in 'Monster Show 6' celebrates the horrifying, deliciously so

<i>D'oh! A Deer!</i>
D'oh! A Deer!

Normal people – and, yes, what does that actually mean? But they're out there, millions of them. And this is not just a surface gloss; it holds true on a more intimate level, too, in my experience. Hell, I've slept with some of them, been involved in half a relationship or two with their ilk over the past 30 years; how much more field research do you require?

But, right, normal people. Oh, how they love Halloween! Because it gives them an excuse to dress up in bizarre costumes and wear masks and so on. And normal people need such a societally approved excuse: That's one of the ways you can tell they're normal. And they celebrate monsters during that holiday, too, oh boy. But they don't typically celebrate monsters other than that. Because that would be – horrors! – weird.

No, the more perennial celebration of monsters is left to other monsters: artists.

Because, what is a monster anyway? A monster is the other. Perhaps the otherness is especially terrifying due to size or fanginess or some such physiological difference, but, when you're fresh out of Godzilla, people who are simply other than normal will do – as a catalyst for terror or envy or, at the very least, niggling mistrust. (Any questions? Ask Shirley Jackson.) And those people, the other-than-normal ones, or at least the ones among that motley tribe who practice art, are the best people to communicate with, to represent, to act as ambassadors to the land of the truly monstrous.

Right now Domy Books, that elegant emporium of so much that's vividly published about graphic design and esoteric literature (and the lit itself) and arcane methods of music and fashion, is serving as a sort of Monster Embassy. The current exhibition, "Monster Show 6," brings the creations of dozens of artists from around the country to its storied walls. Russell Etchen, the tall ginger man behind this series, has contracted quite an array of ambassadors.

Nick Derington has a monster in there, looking like something Frodo would have nightmares about if he'd watched Star Wars too many times. Ruth Van Beek has perpetrated a photo collage that reveals the true but hidden essence of your ordinary house cat. Tim Brown and Emily Halbarider have collaborated on a poster that's unnerving in its simplicity and its instilling of a WTF-I'd-better-hide reaction from your inner child. Abi Daniel ... oh my God. Maybe it's due to Daniel's soft watercolor realism that her portrait of a young deer (a more natural-looking Bambi) turned zombie is so horrifying; but it certainly, deliciously, is.

And, yes, there's more. And more. And more, in an almost monstrous amount, from others like Michael Seiben, Deth P. Sun, Rachel Niffenegger, Dan Hanafin, oh, it's almost too terrifying – the amount of talent – to go on.

But you go on, friend. Pay a visit to Domy and see the creatures displayed there now. The visions probably won't bother you that much (some of them are, aw, sweet), and some may even seem a bit familiar – unless. Well, unless you're too fucking normal.

"Monster Show 6" runs through Dec. 8 at Domy Books, 913 E. Cesar Chavez. For more information, call 476-3669 or visit

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Monster Show 6, East Austin Studio Tour, Domy Books, Russell Etchen, Nick Derington, Ruth Van Beek, Tim Brown, Emily Halbarider, Abi Daniel

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