November 8, 2023

Mulligan's Mysterious Monsters

         Today I want to share some relief block prints by one of my fellow artists who showed with me at Roslindale Open Studios last month.  (Often I find myself the only relief printmaker at any given show, but this time there were actually three of us!)  Mark Mulligan of Wheaten Press does a variety of print media, including letterpress and intaglio, but of course for purposes of this blog I’m especially interested in his relief block prints — and especially especially interested in his relief block prints with an element of fantasy.  Mulligan makes plenty of “straight” prints, but is also drawn to cryptozoological subjects, and he’s made a small collection featuring some favorites.
        First is the cattle rustler getting his cattle re-rustled by a rustler farther up the food 
chain, as it were.  I like how the spacecraft breaks the edges of the border.  (To see another artist
’s take on a similar concept, revisit this post about Aliens Among the Diné.)
        Another piece in which we humans find ourselves no longer at the top of the food chain is Mulligan’s “Seafood.”  The mirrored poses of the lobster fisherman and the kraken are cleverly done.  This is the most unambiguously “horror” of Mulligan’s pieces.  Although all of them have a certain whimsy, they also tend to imply a little uncertainty about the outcome of these encounters.
        At least the skier and the bigfoot who meet each other on the mountainside seem to be able to cross paths without conflict.  They’ll each have an exciting story to tell when they get home!  Mulligan does a nice job of placing these cryptid encounters in settings that balance between plausibly remote habitats for mystery creatures, but also ordinary enough situations that they feel like a fantastical intrusion into the everyday.  Who knows, as ski season comes to the northern climes, whether you, too, might spot a bigfoot on the slopes this year?
        The final piece highlights especially strongly the unsettling side of Mulligan’s speculative views.  Is this winter dream really a nightmare?  The snowman’s outstretched arms look rather menacing, but the child is smiling as if this creature is going to be a marvelous playmate.  And is it all just a dream, or has the snowman really come to life?  Benign “Frosty” figure or malign winter monster?  Naturally I’m going to vote for delightful magical adventure, but what do you think?
        It’s always wonderful to see what my fellow artists are up to, but especially fun to have met one with such overlap of interests.

[Pictures: Rustler, linocut by Mark Mulligan;

Seafood, linocut by Mulligan;

Trailblazers , linocut by Mulligan;

Winter Dreaming, woodcut by Mulligan (All images from Mulligan’s web site Wheaten Press.)]


MFH said...

Hello Anne!

I discovered you this evening when researching David Frampton and found my way to your 1.Okt.2010 post. The link there to an interview with him returns a 404. Do you have any idea how to find the interview?

My spouse, Michell Cook, was a serigrapher. You can see her work at

Nice blog. I added you to the list on mine.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Hello, MFH,
Thanks for stopping by. I looked up the link in my notes, and I see that the interview had been posted at, but when I went poking around there now, they obviously no longer have their page of author/illustrator interviews. (After all, I guess 13 years is a long time in internet terms!) You could possibly inquire whether they still have it anywhere. If you do find it, let me know and I'll update my link! I'm sorry I can't help you.
And thanks for the link to Michelle's work! =)
- Anne

MFH said...

Thanks, Anne. I'll go hunting. 😉