David Crook, better known by his friends as D-Bob, came to Eureka Springs in 2005 from Portland, Ore. "I've had family around here for years," says Crook. "But before that last trip here, I was always too young to appreciate what Eureka Springs is all about."
A self-described victim of "things like Monty Python and MAD magazine," Crook describes himself as first and foremost a cartoonist. "When I was 22 or so I had decided I needed to go back to school," he said. "I wanted to do something in my art and find a way to capitalize on that, so I went to the Art Institute of Seattle."
Despite the wide array of approaches he learned in art school, Crook is a purist. "Among other things in art school, they teach you how to do things by computer," he said, "but I am much more focused on hand skill. Those guys who drew MAD magazine -- MAD was extremely influential in its day -- and the artists from the underground comix arena who were influenced by them -- those guys who could really manipulate so much texture with line quality and simple black and white, maybe sometimes gray tone added for depth, but a lot of that was achieved by simple hand line work."
While admitting great things can be done on computer, Crook says he's mostly unfamiliar. "I've seen several e-comics but I don't know the process," he said. "It seems to me that it takes away from the immediacy of the work, like over-producing music. It takes all the heart and soul out of it."
Crook says he uses "really basic equipment" when working, including No. 2 pencils and a line of fine point pens. "You can get the fat lines that lead all the way up to sharpie-fatness and quality, then all the way down to a cat-hair thinness," he said. "It all depends on what you're looking for. On a given project I always have at least three or four or more pens, and when I can afford it, a whole sprawl of those different point sizes."
Part of his motivation in moving to Eureka was to escape the rat race. "Trying to keep up with the go go go of living in the city, the high cost of living there, it was just impossible," Crook said. "At the end of the day you had no time, or desire, to do art."
He said living and working here has slowed things down, but in a positive way. "I am surrounded on all sides by this overwhelming community of creative talents -- music, the visual arts, dance, writers -- and it affords me this slower pace," he said. "That's why I love these surroundings here. This is a community that affords me the space to sprawl my work out, work at my leisure, and with my studio situation, sometimes I can there actually open my doors and say come on in, look at my work, ask questions."
Crook's current project is a graphic novel, "a slow process labor-of-love kind of thing," called The Land of Ish. "It is a sort of a fantasy mock-up semi-autobiographical story," he said. "It chronicles the main character's transformation from big city rat race to small town culture shock, and then eventually accepting that, set in a town much like Eureka Springs. The guy is suddenly exposed to a whole world that was under his nose all along the whole time. Ideally the setting is sort of The Shire from 'The Hobbit' meets 'Northern Exposure.' Some of that same sort of small-town quirkiness, maybe applied in a slightly more fantasy setting. Where the guy realizes this isn't so different after all, but its much more my speed."
Like many Eurekan bohemians and artists, contacting D-Bob can be a bit of a trick. "I am just now in the process of getting business cards together," he said. "But I can be contacted easily enough; everybody knows me, word of mouth gets around. I can be contacted through Chelsea's Corner Cafe & Bar -- I run the door there weekend nights. Track me down and ask, and we'll set up a time to have you come by my studio at the Art Colony. People are more than welcome to see what I'm working on."
The number for Chelsea's is 479-253-6723.