Writer and artist Edward Ficklin (he/him) focuses on illustration and visual storytelling using traditional media. He loves exploring the many facets of gay identity and representation in his stories and images.
His comics have been published by Snowyworks/Indie Comix Dispatch and Outlet Comics. His paintings have appeared in the Doable Guys annual anthology and in their first in-person show in NYC in 2021. His comic sci-fi romp Chasing the Flame hits digital outlets and select indie comix stores in early 2022.
He lives and works on the unceded Lenape territory now called New York City.
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My work centers on the two, slightly overlapping circles of comics and painting. Two different worlds and aesthetics that appeal to me equally and provide ideal vehicles for what I want to express and bring into the world.
As for subject matter, whether comics or painting, the imagery of gay masculintity predominates. In other words, beefcake! To serve up the beefcake, I rely on representational styles and traditional media. Beyond the representational, is my desire for representation. Just as beyond the erotic, I want show the entirely of the gay experience as both individual and part of a big, messy, lovely, and endlessly amazing community.
Beneath the surface, underneath all that frosting on the beefcake, I also desire to bring passion, joy, and love into the world through my art. I want to make images and stories of big heart, of triumph, of the rising of the spirit’s sun after the long dark night.
For painting, I work mostly in the studio with oils, watercolor, and gouache. I draw from both life drawing and found photographic materials. The comics are more a blend of digital tools and traditional media. Digital tools play a huge role in the generation phase, leading to traditional media to produce the final art. Then, it’s back to the digital to prepare for reproduction and dissemination.
Among the many things that influence me, I give top billing to Tom of Finland, J.C. Leyendecker, and the whole boisterous genre of pulp covers of the mid- to late-20th century. Tom and J.C. define, for me, the essence of the visual language of gay masculinity. The pulp covers appeal to me for their vividness and unrestrained attempts to arrest your attention and not let go till you’ve made a purchase. They’re a fascinating blend of tight technique and wild expressivity.
I have only just begun my journey as an artist, and at a time of life when most people have settled in—or, perhaps, just settled. It was early 2016, emerging from a number of years of personal struggle, when the inspiration and conviction to pursue a meaningful practice in art came to me. At the time, it was comics alone, and the immense storytelling possibilities, that fired my resolve. The painting has quietly grown more and more important during that time to fill an equal place in my heart and practice.
The constraints and vicissitudes of mid-life didn’t allow for a formal art school education once the resolution was made. Life could have been upended to pursue such, but given my questionable experiences with formal education earlier in life, I choose my own adventure. The current wealth of independent learning options are keeping me busy and growing, in particular, the offerings organized by Aaron Blaise and Stan Prokopenko. This may or may not be enough, so I remain open, attentive, and poised to take on new opportunities to grow and find community.