Every Page of Every Page of Moby-Dick, 16


9/8/21, 10:30pm

A found page showing a series of diagrams and minimal instructions about how to pattern and stitch a pencil is backdrop to a simple and funny bit of pop art heeding Ishmael’s anxiety about the harpooneer’s potential retaliation were he to go forward with his plan to lock the man out of his room for the night.

A jagged frame – resembling the starburst shape behind a comic POW! – is formed by a series of irregular peaks outlined in red extending from the margins of the canvas, painted white and pockmarked over with red dots. Within this frame, drawn large over the pencil craft instructions and shaded so they’re still visible beneath, is a frontal view of a large, block-like fist. The four fingers of this apparent right jab are formed by a rectangle tilted to one side, outlined in black, with three parallel and equally spaced lines extending from the lower edge of the rectangle three quarters of the way to its top; a smaller rectangle drawn abut the larger one on the far right side connotes the thumb, and a semicircle is drawn and centered on its top, evidently the only visible bit of the forearm or shoulder of the limb throwing the punch at the viewer’s face. The piece is a rather notable stylistic departure from any of the canvases that have come before it (though it resembles somewhat the wrecking cube fists of the invisible police officer of the fates in 5), and it is a good reminder that MK’s every illustration need not conform to or establish a pattern. A pattern can make a pencil, but the pencil need not reciprocate.  

The whole point here is to show something you don’t see coming. At the same time, the illustration is ironic, since Ishmael does see it coming. MK’s penchant for MD’s humor motivates his choice of line from this page to draw, where Ishmael all but names the genre of illustration it inspires: “so soon as I popped out of the room…” Pop! Pow! Wow! A fist! A first. Surely not the last.

Matt Kish
MOBY-DICK, Page 016

Title: For who could tell but what the next morning, so soon as I popped out of the room, the harpooneer might be standing in the entry, all ready to knock me down!
(8.5 inches by 10.5 inches; acrylic paint and ink on found paper; August 19, 2009)

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