There’s something disturbingly slap-happy at the core of Citizenla’s own horror comic strip, Meatdoll, that makes it’s gore all the more…horrific. D.W. Frydendall’s dead-on, gutsy drawing skill is so vivid, small wonder if “Meatdoll’s” maker isn’t a freak, monster genius for real.
Frydendall’s ability to evoke peals of laughter at peeling flesh—it’s just sick. And the freaky sado-masochistic plot overtones: a serial murder suspect, Meatdoll, slinking around in a zip lock, fetish get-up melting prostitute victims in acid—bloody hysterical!
Frydendall’s artful execution deftly renders the repulsive pallet-able, yummy enough to lure even squeamish voyeurs, like me, back for more Meatdoll strip after strip.
Then in Citizen LA’s August ’08 issue, Frydendall sticks in another twisted plot point. The comic cops who are hot on Meatdoll’s trail—a working Mom partnered with a wise-cracking, unabashed “asshole”—gun-down Meatdoll! They’ve CAUGHT, maybe killed, either way taken OUT the strip’s Star!
But this wild ride is not, thank goodness, OVER, it’s “…To Be Continued.” Stunned, I’m thinking unless Meatdoll is in a contract dispute with his agent or on some sort of cartoon actor’s strike—nullifying the lead that’s just sheer writer INSANITY!
Mind you, this was before I’d seen Frydendall’s full body of artwork and knew of his affinity for paranormal creature creations. Ah, ha! Maybe, Meatdoll’s, not some demented human disguised in fetish garb after all. Whatever this ‘thing’ is, I’m guessing Frydendall will indeed need to work some voodoo to recover Meatdoll.
When I first bring it up with Frydendall, who’s either not quite ready to reveal or my guesses are all wrong-o, his lips are sinisterly sealed. How about a clue? “You’d never see it coming but the clues have all been in the story from the start,” he says.
Fydendall first dreamed up Meatdoll back in the day when he and Citizen LA publisher, George Stiehl, worked as corporate slaves for the same famed production company. There, the pair first pitched the idea of a horror comic to their bosses who scoffed them out of the office. “They thought it was a joke,” says Frydendall. Commiserating on their soulless entertainment jobs and hell-bent on a free-lance future, the friends kept a zipper on Meatdoll until Frydendall finally fleshed out (or not) the character, bringing the ‘thing’ to life or, whatever, on the Citizen LA pages a year ago.
Frydendall does hint that Meatdoll sprang from his desire to come up with a “new kind of character no one has seen before.” Hmm. That rules out Zombies, at least, as Frydendall himself has done dozens of them.
Frydendall’s other thrilling accomplishments thus far in the genre, if there can be said to be one and Frydendall ‘s multi-faceted work isn’t inventing it, includes three illustrative books, dozens of hit album covers, feature storyboard development and prolific solo shows of new work at popular LA clubs and galleries, including Hyena Gallery, Frydendall’s favorite showplace.
Frydendall’s also created many merchandisable, lovably creepy characters and he’s, brace yourself, the artistic advisor for “Girls and Corpses” Magazine—self-described as” Maxim” meets” Dawn of the Dead.” The National magazine features tongue-in-cheek, rather cheekbone, staged photos of badly aging dead dudes getting fresh with scantily clad live girls. There’s enough cloth on the girls and scarcity of skin, let alone genitalia, on the corpses (I had to do a rib count on “dudes”) to fall short of being considered pornographic (ironically). The editorial, some of it written by Frydendall, is NOT (phew!) about necrophilia and offers some surprisingly interesting social commentary. Even the exploitive visuals began to work for me conceptually given that, true, there ARE lovers who are more like corpses in bed. And we’ve all had those heartbreak romances where it’s occurred to us we’d have been better off if only our partners really were corpses BEFORE we’d ever met.
Despite Frydendall’s freaky works, in our interview I discover a rather “normal,” he’ll forgive me for saying, polite, mellow, and fairly soft-spoken guy. (Then again, it’s always the quiet ones.)
Frydendall’s a terrific story teller vocally as well as in writing. Talk to Frydendall, BTW, if you ever need a few good stories on George. His eyewitness account of George’s near-death-by-chimney-flue experience in Mexico is outrageously funny, the way Frydendall tells it at least.
Meatdoll’s true identity keeps niggling at me. And I’m getting nowhere with Frydendall on that. Thirty minutes into the interview the recording’s going like this:
D.W.Frydendall: I’m sipping Absinth right now. Have you tried it?
Heidi: Could Meatdoll have been poisoned instead of shot?
D.W.Frydendall: This Absinthe’s blue not green. It tastes like mint though, not liquorish.
Heidi: Is Meatdoll female?
D.W.Frydendall: Could be. What color was Meatdoll seeing before being shot?
Heidi: Red but wasn’t that BLOOD? Wait, whaddya mean BEFORE…?
D.W.Frydendall: It’s called “Le Torment Verde.”
Heidi: Have another one for me.
While Frydendall’s hopefully getting drunk enough to tell all, I fall back on the obligatory interview discussion of ‘influences’ on an artist’s work. Something that always makes me cringe, usually amounting to a list of dead artists including at least one obscure name I’ll misspell and isn’t likely to be on “page 1” Google anyway. But Frydendall’s response is a delightful relief.
There’s an “evil” Catholic school nun who made a “huge impact.” Sister Mary also made school life “a living hell” for Frydendall from the age of 6, when he began mocking her lectures on obedience. Child Frydendall knew a “control mechanism” when he met one and drew images of robots. Other mindless things like Frydendall’s famous zombies emerged from his rebellion against Sister Mary’s discipline.
Frydendall defines evil as the “subjugation of liberty.” It’s “instilling your views and opinions on someone against their will.” Especially, Frydendall adds, “When it’s done to take advantage of people.”
We’re soon onto Dante, God, and Satan. “I can’t believe people buy into being terrified of this dude in a red jumpsuit stabbing at you with a pitchfork and laughing at you for eternity.”
RED Jumpsuit! OMG, I’m thinking, could Meatdoll be…?
Frydendall describes Christian mythology as “a mass hallucination.” But his belief in God is greater than in the Devil, at least. “God’s a good lay,” he says.
Frydendall’s tentative at best about believing in ANYONE’S definition of paranormal phenomenon. UFO’s, Aliens, Ghosts, Vampires, Werewolves, they’re all illusionary, illustrations to Frydendall. “Images of fear,” is what Frydendall calls the forms he draws.
“There’s some weird shit out there, though,” Frydendall says. It’d be pretty arrogant to think we’re the only intelligence in the Universe. But I believe it’s on a level, an electromagnetic dimension where we can’t perceive or define it physically.”
As for the adventure side of his comic book fascination, Frydendall came from a family of “heroes.” His Dad’s a firefighter, brother and Uncle are cops. Uncle Robert May was the Detective who caught the “Redlight Bandit” killer in the 1950’s. Frydendall’s favorite comic book hero growing up was “Popeye,” with Batman and Spiderman getting an honorable mention. “I like that Popeye didn’t rely on any supernatural powers he just punched their lights out with his bare fist.”
Frydendall’s studied martial arts and recently took up boxing, which he says is more “satisfying.”
“The Sandman” is Frydendall’s all-time favorite myth being. “He’s the king of dreams,” explains Frydendall: “Dreams have a lot to do with reality.”
OK, OK, maybe the Meatdoll shooting was part of a dream sequence then? However the story turns out, one thing I know for certain is that Meatdoll is surely one of the fulfillments of Frydendall’s artistic dreams…And Meatdoll’s going to give me nightmares at least until I get to the bottom of it!