Nerdy Artists Locked in Years-Long Battle of Monsters

11/02/2009 3:01 PM |

Move 25 (Zebrasaur / Bite) Nicholas Di Genova

While most adults sublimate (or at least closet) their sci-fi fandom after their first experience of public shame, the trio of artists Zak Smith, Shawn Cheng, and Nicholas Di Genova are turning years of geeky expertise (“geexpertise”?) into beautiful art. They’re three and a half years into what’s essentially a really beautiful and boundary-less game of Magic.

The project, On the Road of Knives, basically follows the logic of such fantasy card games, with one artist making a move (a drawing of a monster) and the next illustrator answering with a monster of his own, after which the beasts throw down and the the winner takes on the next artist’s creation.

It’s both incredibly childish, yet really beautiful, entertaining and often quite funny. You also start to get a sense of each participant’s personal style and interest—Cheung parodies a lot of motifs from Japanese legends and pop culture and the style of Japanese prints, Smith favors a really kinetic and messy comic book style, and Di Genova has a really cinematic sensibility.

The project started in March of 2006 and the trio are currently on move 113, with notable monsters including a giant spider with three bear heads, a fusion of a dinosaur, Alien and Gollum called The Librarian and, my favorite, a zebra-striped raptor thing (pictured). (who killed bambi)