I recall the first time I attended “The Meltdown” comedy show at the Nerdmelt theatre in Hollywood. I came away from the experience feeling extremely satisfied, but it wasn’t only for the reasons you might think. Yes, I laughed heartily. There were amazing comics performing that evening. What else was it that made my night so complete? Well, I’d been lucky enough to purchase one of the most fantastic pieces of artwork I’d seen in a great, great while. And who was responsible for this brilliant work? A man by the name of Dave Kloc. I was not yet writing for SO at that time but I continued to attend “The Meltdown” show and admire the work of an obviously, gifted artist. Well, I’m ecstatic to say I finally have the privilege to share my admiration of this phenomenal illustrator and ultra cool person. Let his work speak for itself. Let his words please you even more. Enjoy!
Serial Optimist: Hello, Dave. Ok, that greeting filled me with serious HAL 9000 chills. Remember HAL’s imprinted speech? “The 9000 series is the most reliable computer ever made. No 9000 computer has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error.” Do you think a technological singularity is our future? Will we reach a greater-than-human super intelligence with the aid of technology? If so, will we, in the process, then lose all forms of artistic expression if they are deemed impractical?
Dave Kloc: Hello, Hal. I’ve only seen slight improvements in the technology at Drive-Thru’s, so color me skeptical.
SO: “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I’m half crazy all for the love of you. It won’t be a stylish marriage. I can’t afford a carriage. But you’ll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.” Sorry for that minor glitch, Dave. I find your surname highly fascinating. Is it a family name or some acronym for a 1000 lines of computer code? I have last name envy.
Dave: As a guy with several speech impediments – all it’s ever been to me is a word without an S, or CH sound. It doesn’t exactly stand for anything though, but it is pronounced “klutz” in Polish (where my family is from) and “Clock” in English. Again, I got lucky.
SO: Lucky, indeed! When did you first start illustrating? What inspired you to start?
Dave: I used to draw instead of write. So my journals in school were mostly just monsters acting out everyday things – much to the chagrin of my teachers and my grades. Eventually – I was inspired by the full-page spreads in Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson, and then Magic The Gathering cards.
SO: I’ll trade you my surplus Comic-Con Magic The Gathering cards for some original artwork. I’m totally serious. I’ve got mint boxes. What types of media do you like to work in? How would you describe your artwork to a layman?
Dave: I work with pencils and pens and watercolors for a lot of my pieces but I also do a lot of screen-printing which is a whole other ball of wax. And to a fellow layman I’d probably just skip over talking about my artwork and just hope they wanted to talk about Hockey or Thin Lizzy.
SO: Go Kings! Did you formally study art/design? Who are your art world superheroes? Any favorite museums or art galleries?
Dave: After high school – I got an internship in Worcester, Mass painting hockey goalie helmets. And from there I decided to give art school a shot. I went to the University of Michigan, where I actually did mostly performance art.
I’d say my art heroes at this point would be, in no particular order: Aaron Horkey, Pushead, Jay Ryan, Jon Wilcox, Ben Sears, Kevin Tong, Daniel Danger, John Baizley, Shawn Knight and whoever designed my couch from IKEA.
SO: Love their Swedish meatballs. You’ve been designing and screen printing a weekly poster for “The Meltdown” comedy show in LA for about the last year. What’s the story behind that gig? What’s the reception been like to your creations?
Dave: That gig has been incredible. I’ve always collected gig posters and screen printed posters from going to concerts and such, and when I started going to “The Meltdown”, weekly, I got to talking to Jonah Ray and we both agreed that the show itself had a punk rock-esque following and would do well to have some artistic component to document it’s evolution.
The reception has been exceptional, and I’m overwhelmed and thankful for all the people who have shown their interest and appreciation for hand made artwork at a comedy show – in the back of a comic book store. Folks like Jonah, Emily Gordon, and Gaston have been such a great group to work with and for and their support is something any artist dreams of.
SO: Wow, that seems like such a fateful meeting of art and comedy. What’s the process you go through from design idea to printed poster?
Dave: In this order – paper, pencil, ink, eraser, scanner, computer, multiple breaks to pet my dog, computer, print films, coat screens, burn screens, wash screens, mix ink, register screens, print color, wash screen, notice you ruined your favorite shirt, register screen, print color, pick out top twenty or so, sign posters – go to Meltdown.
SO: The Meltdown comic book store is a veritable warehouse of comic book titles, magazines, art books, collectibles, and nerd merch. Do you ever find yourself spending hours there sifting through all the fantastic eye candy?
Dave: Not so much. I don’t like buying things – my girlfriend, Kate, is the real comic book/graphic novel aficionado, though. I will be spending a lot more time there soon, though. Gaston, the owner, his wife, Hisami, a few others and myself are opening up a print shop connected to Meltdown Comics. If you look in the annex (near the Heavy Metal mags) you’ll see the collection of huge printing equipment piling up neatly.
SO: Ooooh! That is exciting news. I’ll have to pay careful attention next time I’m there. Were you a fan of comedy before you started collaborating with Meltdown? If not, are you a fan now?
Dave: Yes – I love the yuk yuk’s. And I still do.
SO: Awesome. You’ve also done work for “The Super Serious Show” which I’ve had the pleasure of covering. It seems like you are quickly becoming the go to art guy for all things comedy. Do you see yourself maintaining this connection to comedy for a while?
Dave: Great people over there are the SSS. I’ve been able to work with a lot of comedians on flyers, albums, posters and such, and it’s been tremendous. For years I only worked with bands for artwork and I must say – comedians are great to work with and entirely down to earth when it comes to artistic expectations. And all the while – I still get to draw weird/creepy stuff.
I love the overlap of art and comedy – but it’s more so the connection of independent comedy venues / comedians / art as the venues and the underground comedy shows start to accrue loyal fanbases along with the comedians themselves.
SO: It doesn’t seem like art and comedy have always commingled. Do you think the advent of the alternative comedy scene has nurtured creative ways of promotion? Your typical comedy club poster has invariably struck me as hokey and sad.
Dave: The main difference between the art I’ve done for the comedy shows / comedians and your typical comedy show – is that not once have I had to write “Two Drink Minimum” on any poster. Also – a lot more skulls.
SO: I shudder at the words “Two Drink Minimum.” Now I do find that art has deep ties to music and you’ve done work for a number of bands. Do you have carte blanche when it comes to designs concepts for bands or are you at the mercy of a Xanadu-esque record company’s vision (The cheesy movie, not the poem)?
Dave: It all depends on the band. Most of the time I get to just draw something bonkers and put a band name on it – but I’m not always that lucky. Recently, though, I did an album design for one of my absolute favorite comedians, Jim Hamilton, and he came to me with an amazing idea and I was overjoyed and didn’t change a THING about it. Also, Jonah Ray’s album was entirely his idea as well. There are a lot of great minds out there, Hal. There really is.
SO: Affirmative, Dave. Your dog Penny really needs her own Tumblr site. Li’l Bub, beware! She seems like a great source of stress relief for you. I believe I’ve seen her make an appearance or two in your posters. How do you like to let off steam when you are not illustrating or entertaining Penny?
Dave: If I’m not illustrating, entertaining Penny or with my wonderful girlfriend, Kate, I’m probably at work.
SO: It’s always ideal if you love your work. Do you plan any gallery showings in the future? What other projects do you have in the works?
Dave: This week I’m helping a friend with an animation, doing a few posters for events thrown by Lance Bangs, FYF Comedy posters, three art shows in October, an Intronaut shirt and poster, Riverboat Gamblers design, and then the weekly Meltdown posters! And I’m also trying to teach my dog to whisper.
SO: Thanks so much for your time, Dave. My calculations predict your career shows immense potential. You humans may just outshine us computers yet!