David Mahler is a comic artist, filmmaker and animator. Their short films have screened at international film festivals from Canada to Russia, and in 2017 they were commissioned by the City of Melbourne to partake in the Signal Screen Arts Commission. Their first comic book ‘Deep Park’ was published in 2013, and their most recent ‘The Secret Ingredient’ was hand-risograph printed and released during a residency at Tree Paper Comics in 2018.
Our Co-Deputy Editor, Zoe Kingsley, interviews David about their work.
The cover art you created for #15 hits that sun-bleached suburban street feel so well. How did a framing of a suburban scene develop in the artwork and in what ways does it relate to your experience and idea of suburbia?
Thank you! The idea came from living in the countryside for most of this year— after getting used to space and solitude it was weird to head back to the suburbs to catch up with a friend, just before starting this illustration. I was driving around the area trying to find his house and after being so isolated the suburbs were suddenly cast in a completely fresh light. It was like being a foreigner in an exciting new culture. Every drain pipe and lattice work had some beauty to it, but you don’t appreciate it when you’re walking home from the train station every day. My computer background at the time was the opening sea creature smorgasbord from Ponyo, so this pretty-banality collided with Miyazaki creatures. Oh, and there’s a bit of Atlantis: The Lost Empire thrown in too, good fun. The kids being distracted by their phones—blind to the world around them and incapable of using their imaginations—has become such a trope but I figured it was the easiest way to say ‘hey, open your eyes, you’re missing out’.
You recently presented a new body of paintings and projection pieces at your solo exhibition Cosmic Ocean at the Black Cat Gallery. Do you find yourself exploring particular subjects with particular media, or is medium inconsequential to subject for you?
The medium definitely dictates the approach to a theme, but generally everything I do tends to revolve around the key word of ‘connection’. Cosmic Ocean was an opportunity to explore conscious human connection, the hive mind, and the interconnectivity of energies flying around the universe in a very abstracted and symbolic way. You could argue this cover illustration also explores connection, to each other and to the world.
Where can our lovely TSR readers find your forthcoming works and projects?
www.davidcmahler.com has most everything, including a link to my comics/illustration specific website, blog, and my film/animation company’s site. I’m on instagram, @david_c_mahler. I’d love to give a shoutout to Rainbow Reflections, an anthology of queer comics by Ad Astra books, my latest comic ‘Tiergarten’ is in there— www.book.adastracomix.com/products/rainbow-reflections