Super Art Fight at the Red Palace

At some point late in the third battle last night at The Red Palace, Super Art Fight co-creator and co-host Ross Nover remarked, “My mom wanted to know why she couldn’t come to the show tonight.”

Of course, considering this was taking place in a bar and featured burlesque dancers in between battles, it’s unlikely anyone in the audience had any illusions this was supposed to be a family-friendly event. But Nover was more reacting to the inherent unpredictability of Super Art Fight. Anything goes, after all, and the more ridiculous the drawings, the better.

Super Art Fight, as the name would suggest, pits two artists against each other in a drawing competition. They have 25 minutes to out draw the other and win over the audience, who then picks the winner (the artist that gets the most cheers wins). The battle starts with each competitor declaring a starting topic and every five minutes new ones are introduced by the Wheel of Death. Submitted to the Super Art Fight website, they’re usually preposterous, ranging from “Godzilla’s Sexy Cousin” and “Marty McSuperfly.”

Nover, along with fellow host Marty Day, kept the action moving. They have a teasing and affable rapport with each other and are always willing to just keep making jokes. Their reactions are part of what make the show so great — they have the perfect combination of quick wits and bafflement about what they’re seeing being drawn and really pull the audience into the action. (Nover also treated the audience to a rendition of Vanilla Ice’s “Ninja Rap” from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle II. I would love to tell you it made sense at the time — although, it almost did — but mostly, it was impressive he remembered as much of it as he did.) [It has been pointed out to me that this was actually Partners in Kryme’s “T-U-R-T-L-E POWER” from the first movie. I am behind on my TMNT knowledge, obviously. Or blocked most of the movie out of my memory. One or the other.]

Last night’s first battle featured Dann Malihom (who dressed as a ninja) and Kelsey Wailes (who wore a cardboard robot mask). Their starting topics were, appropriately enough, ninjas and robots. These two were probably the most competitive with each other, crossing over into the other’s side early in the battle. Wailes turned Malihom’s ninja into a robot and he turned her robot into a ninja. The battle initially ended in a tie until a recount (er, rescream?) declared Malihom the winner.

While most competitors do come from a comics background (many participants in Super Art Fight also make web comics), Darl Gnau has a background in tattooing. He was the challenger to Nick Borkowicz in the second battle. Their starting topics were Frankenberry and Yummy Mummy. That clearly almost immediately got weird, especially as soon as the first Wheel of Death topics — “Sadshark” and “Your Mom” were announced. I think all you really need to know about this battle is that a fetus Frankenberry with a machine gun was drawn at one point. Gnau was the winner.

The third round and main event was between Super Art Fight veterans Brandon J. Carr and Jamie Noguchi. While the first two battles were plenty of fun, this one was the most entertaining. Their starting topics were “Mother” and “Father.” After a Danzig joke was made, Noguchi took “Mother” to mean the album cover the song was from instead of anything more appropriate. Carr, for his part, drew Homer Simpson to represent “father.”

Their experience really showed and they were quick to adapt to comments from the hosts as well as Wheel of Death topics. Upon being given “Dracula at the beach,” Noguchi drew a few scattered dots and declared he was done. But the vampire theme continued throughout, as various drawings were given bat wings and fangs. Carr, after misplacing his original markers, somehow managed to have multiple colors instead of just the traditional red and black, and he used them to delightful effect. In the end, Noguchi won, but only by .1 decibels.

But really, even with winners being declared, the competition aspect feels pretty secondary to how much fun this whole thing is to watch. If you don’t think spending two hours in a bar watching people draw silly things on wall-sized pieces of paper, Super Art Fight will prove you wrong.

I posted a bunch of photos to Facebook. If you’re in them, feel free to tag yourself.

Currently, Super Art Fight is primarily based in Baltimore, but does perform at various cons along the East Coast. There will be a show on Aug. 20, so if you’re in Baltimore for Baltimore Comic-Con, it’s worth checking out (I realize it will probably conflict with the Harvey Awards, but still …).

4 thoughts on “Super Art Fight at the Red Palace”

  1. I still don’t understand why I am not allowed at SAF’s held @ the Red Palace. Believe it or not, I’ve actually seen burlesque–including strippers. And, I’m really only there to see the Art Fight.

  2. I did leave something out about a certain illustrative image Jamie Noguchi drew … and since I think we’re all trying to block that memory out of our minds, you were better off not seeing it.

    But yeah, Ross, let your mom come to SAF!

  3. Oh man! I’d love to go to something like this. They should come to Philadelphia!

    I wish I had the chops to compete. I don’t, but it would be a lot of fun to watch! I love this sort of thing.

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