Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, a decidedly different figure sketching event, was co-founded by Molly Crabapple in 2005 in a dive bar in Brooklyn. In just a few short years, the small event has grown into a what Crabapple calls an “alt.drawing movement” and now features over one hundred branches on five continents. Last Sunday, the New York City branch featured a Transmetropolitan-themed event to increase awareness of the upcoming “Transmetropolitan” art book being released to benefit both the CBLDF and the Hero Initiative. The tribute book was funded through a campaign on Kickstarter and features the artwork of dozens of artists, all of whom have donated their work, in addition to a forward by “Transmet” co-creator Warren Ellis and an original cover from Spider Jerusalem’s other co-creator, artist Darick Robertson.
As for Molly Crabapple, she’s best known to comics fans as a member of the online collective act-i-vate, for digital comics like “The Puppet Makers,” contributions to “Girl Comics” and books like “Scarlet Takes Manhattan,” so it’s no surprise she would be involved in such a comics-related event. “The CBLDFÂ and theÂ Hero InitiativeÂ came to us and asked if we’d be interested in doing a co-promotion with them,” she told CBR News at the event. “Warren is a friend of mine and I’m a huge admirer of ‘Transmet.'”
Crabapple also too the time to explain what Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art Show is, for those who haven’t attended one of the events. “Dr. Sketchy’s is a fusion of cabaret and life drawing. We take the most amazing, gorgeous, subversive, underground performers and personalities, we bring them to a bar and we have artists draw them.” She described the event as “theatrical and fun” and spoke about the spirit of boozy camaraderie at the events.
While it may prove the most high-profile, the Transmet charity night wasn’t Dr. Sketchy’s first comic themed event. Just last month, the New York branch had a Sandman-themed Sketchy’s, where seven people portrayed the Endless. On his website, Ellis wrote “The very concept of a TRANSMET-themed Dr Sketchy’s is still kind of weird for me,” but Crabapple just laughed it off. “He’s just being silly,” Crabapple said. “He was happy about it.”
At the event, Spider Jerusalem was played by genderqueer porn star Jiz Lee while porn star Ryan Keely portrayed one of Spider’s filthy assistants, Channon Yarrow. “Jiz Lee is someone I’ve admired for a long time,” Crabapple told CBR. “She used to have this floppy black hairdo that made her look exactly like the hero of my last graphic novel, ‘Scarlet Takes Manhattan.’ Then she shaved her head, and I was talking with her and I was like, wait a second, you look like Spider Jerusalem, now!”
Crabapple and Lee met several years ago, and Lee has been interested in posing at Dr. Sketchy’s evening, but never had a chance. “I used to be a figure model for a small art collective in Emeryville, and each year I pose at Nude Aid, which is an erotic, live-modeling fundraiser for the Center for Sex & Culture in San Francisco,” said Lee. “When I was a teenager, I would model for Ben Kikuyama, a visual artist who used to spraypaint models as living statues. So I’m pretty good at holding still. I think the trick will be to maintain Spider’s exaggeratedÂ expressions and bodily gestures for long lengths.”
Lee made it clear that while not a comics expert, she is nonetheless a fan. “I’d heard about ‘Transmet’ from friends of mine who are more into graphic novels than I am. Having grown up on an island, I had only some familiarity with creators like Neil Gaiman, Jamie Hewlett and then later the works of friends R. Kikuo Johnson and Tristan Crane. I have to admit I’ve been catching up to speed — and loving it. So yes, I am a fan!
“What appeals to me [about Spider] is his fuck-all attitude,” Lee continued, adding, “Everyone loves a bad boy, and also the somber, deeper side of being a guy who genuinely cares and is profoundly affected by all this shit. The issues in ‘Transmetropolitan’ are a scarily accurate reflection of our modern times, and Spider is a hero and someone we’d all want the balls to be.”
Crabapple laughed when asked if Lee would be spending the session ranting in true Spider Jerusalem fashion. “She’ll probably just pantomime rants and tangents, ’cause, you know, you people have to draw her and you can’t draw a mouth that’s moving.” Lee added, “Perhaps with the appropriate drugs, a rant or two might be possible.”
All Dr. Sketchy’s events are open to everyone who’s interested, regardless of their skill level. “Twelve dollars in advance or fifteen dollars at the door,” Crabapple said. “Everyone comes, from serious highfalutin artists to art students to people who may have studied art in college but now they have a desk job but who want to get back in touch with their creativity. It’s a very fun, nonjudgemental environment to draw.”
For more information, to find a location near you, or learn about the New York City branch’s Doctor Who-themed event on April 10, check out drsketchy.com