by Andy Lyons, Editor-in-Chief
When it comes to conventions such as Kansas City Comic Con, one of the biggest draws is the array of artists, creators and vendors fans don’t normally have access to. Throughout KCCC, a wide range of artwork – including prints of all sizes, custom made armor and statues – lined the aisles throughout Bartle Hall.
Standing out amongst a sea of standard comic art prints was a booth in the middle of the artist section covered in prints, bookmarks, and stickers adorned with Universal Studio’s Classic Monsters. Brady Stoehr’s artwork has a very unique feel with a bighead design and presentation that gives Classic Monsters such as Dracula and the Mummy a fresh appeal. Stoehr said he chose the Monsters because of a lifelong obsession with the creatures.
“I’ve been a Monster nut going way back when I was a little kid,” he said. “I started with the classic Universal Monsters because growing up I had a brother who was 14 years older than me and my mom would have him tuck me in bed at night and he would tell me bedtime stories. Well, I didn’t find out until I was a teenager that he was just telling me the plots from the Universal monster movies. Some of my earliest memories as a kid are stories about Frankenstein and Wolfman and stuff like that. It’s just kind of in my blood.”
Stoehr’s design gives the Monsters a fresh feel – especially considering films such as “Frankenstein” debuted in the 1930s and may seem dated with the recent reboot to the films with “The Mummy” starring Tom Cruise. The bighead design compliments both Stoehr’s artistic style as well as his subject matter.
“I enjoy doing portraits quite a bit, but I didn’t want to have just a floating head with a border on a piece of paper,” he said. “I wanted to have the dynamism of the entire character but then you run into size problems of getting an entire human body on a piece of paper. So it just sort of organically came together, I drew the heads actually separate and then drew the bodies and then put them together and then kind of scaled them a bit until it felt right.”
Stoehr said he goes through a big process when putting together each of his prints. Beginning with drawing each in pencil, he then makes a watercolor wash on a separate piece of paper to color them and combines the pieces in Photoshop, which gives him more freedom to tweak each print.
Each piece of Stoehr’s art in his horror series is extremely unique. He described himself as a texture nut with an obsession for patterns, such as in wrapping paper, wallpaper and textiles. The borders of each monster piece match that obsession with elements from each monster’s individual film incorporated to add to the story of each print.
He did the same with another product he offers – bookmarks. Each has a similar style to the monster prints, only his bookmarks feature horror authors Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King. For those, he used the same drawing for the bodies and focused on the shoulder up and pieces from each author’s stories to make them unique. The bookmark of Poe features imagery from “The Raven,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “Annabel Lee” to really pop.
Stoehr jokingly talked about how in-depth he goes with his artwork, a meticulousness that really shines in each piece he had displayed at his booth. That meticulousness means he shies away from typical freelance work with hard deadlines and short timetables in favor of doing projects he wants to focus on and showing his art at conventions such as KCCC and using online retailer Etsy as a way to get his work to the masses. He focuses on the “mileage” he can get out of each piece and offers large and small prints, bookmarks, stickers and more as a way to broaden his appeal to people’s taste and needs.
2017 is the first year Stoehr brought his art on the road, and KCCC is his last convention of the year. He described his time traveling the country as a learning experience, with each stop offering him something.
“Each area of the country is unique and different, I never really know what to expect,” Stoehr said. “Every market I’ve been in, even the shows where I maybe didn’t make a lot of money I still met a lot of really cool people that were as excited about monsters as I am, so realizing I’m not alone in the world is encouraging. And definitely meeting people that are excited about my artwork, that makes you feel good.”
Stoehr said he plans to continue with the horror theme and move forward chronologically. While he breaks from traveling to conventions, he’s looking to do a one-off of Ed Wood, Jr. print and then move to the Hammer Horror films of the ‘60s and ‘70s with Peter Cushing Vincent Price and Christopher Lee prints – and continuing chronologically to other such as Freddy, Jason and Michael Meyers as he navigates decades of horror films.