Tag Archives: Grotesque

Armageddon Expo at the Melbourne Show Grounds!


Photographs by Charlotte Pridding, works produced by anonymous artist / designer at Armageddon Comic Con

Last weekend, I attended the Armageddon Comic Con in Melbourne for the very first time! There were many enthusiastic visitors dressed as super heroes, anime characters and even zombies, I must admit the costumes were incredible!

I remember walking past someone dressed as Batman, the experience was quite surreal as the costume appeared extremely similar to the one that was used in the movie. You can obviously tell that there were quite a lot of people at the comic con that have devoted a lot of time and money into they’re costumes, although this is adds to the overall experience.

Gruesome Masks at Armageddon Comic Con, 2013

So there was a massive building in the middle of the Melbourne show grounds that was full of comic books, dvd’s, costumes, outfits and other novelty items. There were so many different booths and I wasn’t too sure where to start, there were various comic book artists that were also exhibiting some of their work, which was really interesting.

While I was wondering around all the different booths, I have noticed that the skull was printed onto almost everything! There were synthetic skeletons, skull printed t-shirts, bracelets, wallets, bags and broaches, there were skulls left, right and centre!

There was one booth in particular that immediately captured my attention, in fact I started to take loads of photographs, I just couldn’t help myself. This booth displayed a range of grotesque masks and three-dimensional skulls that would be perfect if you were producing a horror film.


Skulls and Castrated Head

These skulls were rather sinister and there was synthetic blood dripping down the sides, that also provided quite a macabre appearance. At the very front of the booth, there was one skull in particular that was displayed right next to a disembodied head that is synthetic by the way! The display was rather interesting, although it was disturbing at the same time, it’s not every day you see a reproduction of a castrated head or a zombie clown mask!

The castrated head was quite realistic especially the blood and the gash wounds, the level of realism was rather unsettling. Both the severed head and the skull do remind me of the Momento Mori, they both resonate notions of death and destruction, although I am more disturbed of the photograph I have taken to be honest!


Creepy Zombie Clown Mask

I didn’t quite catch the artist’s name, although the level of detail and craftsmanship was just incredible! there were two life sized zombies right opposite the booth that appeared quite gruesome and realistic. The Armageddon Comic Con really does demonstrate that the skull is a very influential icon in contemporary design and popular culture, almost every single booth sold skull merchandise.

There were visitors that even painted their faces in order to replicate the Mexican sugar skulls and there were a range of artists / designers that have frequently used the skull in their own body of work. The gruesome masks and the synthetic skulls were definitely my favourite, their sinister and grotesque nature were substantially different compared to everything else that was for sale.

If you are looking for some extra information, there are a few links attached below. If you are interested in the next Armageddon Comic Con, there will be another one in 2014!



Laurie Lipton

25/5/12 – Death and the Maiden, 2005

Mum had bought me a book from her trip to the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart (Tasmania). The book is also known as Cute & Creepy from the Florida State University of Fine Arts. Carrie Ann Baade explains that the exhibition displayed artists who have explored the ‘macabre’ and the ‘grotesque’ through monsters or other unusual subjects.

Baade also explains that the ‘grotesque’ has become a movement in itself, which refers to “humour and horror or horror and beauty”. The book features different artists, illustrators and designers who combine monsters with children, dolls or fluffy animals in order to create grotesque representations.

According to Baade, Laurie Lipton effectively portrays the grotesque through her unusual characters or cadavers. Baade argues that the skeletal figure is gently embracing the young girl, which may suggest that death isn’t such a morbid or confrontational subject.

Baade also suggests that the skeleton becomes a neutering figure and the dress dissociates death from terrorising or morbid representations. The skeleton is gently holding the young child, which may feminize the image of death. One could argue that the skeleton becomes a maternal figure who is gently stroking the child’s hair.

Baade quotes “despite all our surgeries, eye creams and pills, Death remains close, a night-time companion that cradles us anyway” (Carrie. A. Baade, 2011 p.8)

Fransisco Goya: Los Caprichos (Now One, Now Another)

Regina Marchi also argues that the Western culture have become heavily concerned with cosmetic surgery, dieting, gym memberships and exercising, which may imply society’s desire to live longer than the average life expectancy. In relation to Baade’s comment, one cold argue that society are searching for other ways to prevent ageing, although death is present within the contemporary culture. Perhaps death watching over us and smirking at our attempts to avoid what is unknown.

Baade also believes that Lipton’s work also features similarities to the works of Francisco Goya. According to Phillip Hoffer, Goya’s Los Caprichos series also features “80 prints”, which display distorted figures and unusual, grotesque characters such as witches, corpses or beasts. One could argue that Lipton’s drawings feature additional elements compared to Goya’s work such as tone and definition.

Laurie Lipton. “Bio.” Laurie Lipton, 2010 http://www.laurielipton.com/bio/. (Accessed 25/5/12)

Baade, Carrie A. “Cute & Creepy.” Florida: Florida State University of Fine Arts 2011 p.4 – 8

Marchi, Regina.M. The Day of the Dead in the USA: The Migration and Transformation of a Cultural Phenomenan.  New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2009 p. 98 -99

Image Citations