It's been five years since local art collective Unicorn Mountain released an anthology of comics, writing and music. But this week, the group steps from the shadows and issues perhaps its finest effort yet.
Unicorn Mountain was conceived in 2004 to showcase Pittsburgh's thriving community of young artists. In just six months, the group, under organizer Curt Gettman, published its first anthology, received a $10,000 grant from Sprout Fund and published a second anthology. (Both anthologies include music CDs.) It earned attention from independent publishers nationwide.
Then things stalled. Unicorn Mountain occasionally created displays such as "Jaggerbush Junction," for the 2007 Three Rivers Arts Festival. But "[y]ou gotta remember, we all have day jobs," says Gettman, who himself now directs a Sprout public-art program.
The new anthology, Black Forest: A Collection of Art, Comics and Folk Tales from Western Pennsylvania and Beyond, issues from Six Gallery Press on June 3. It's 232 pages long, and the quality of work by two dozen artists is more consistent than previously. Bill Wehmann's comic about leaving wilderness and attempting to conform to big-city standards, for instance, is complemented by subsequent elaborate ink illustrations by Masha Vereshchenko that seem to depict a distant universe. Escaping from -- and toward -- isolation are common themes. Gettman calls this Unicorn Mountain's "feel."
"When we started Unicorn Mountain, we knew there were a lot of very good, capable artists who were sitting in their bedrooms, and no one really knew what they were doing," he says. "We tried to draw those people out and do an anthology of work that all these people were secretly doing."
Other Black Forest artists include Andrew Davis, Juliacks, Chris Kardimbikis, Andy Kehoe and Frank Santoro.
And it's not all secrets and introspection.
A Sam Gaskin comic in Black Forest, for instance, involves the superhero Namor, who kicks over the Washington Monument, lifts the Pentagon over his head, punches the Lincoln Memorial statue in its groin area and screams "FUCK!" repeatedly. Below the final panel, tiny handwritten script reads: "Chill out, Namor!"
"It's a message to anyone who might be feeling sorry for themselves and throwing a fit and being impossible," Gettman says. "Everything's gonna be all right. So just chill the fuck out, you know?"
Unicorn Mountain's BLACK FOREST BOOK-RELEASE PARTY with guest DJs 6-10 p.m. Fri., June 3. The Andy Warhol Museum, 117 Sandusky St., North Side. Free. 412-237-8300 or www.unicornmountain.com