Alex D. Araiza is a freelance artist living in Minneapolis, MN where he helps run Plus Dog Collective. He lives and works in a cozy house with his fellow artist friends, a dog, and an amazing cat.
CICADA: A lot of your work tends toward dreamlike horror—what draws you to this kind of subject matter?
ALEX D. ARAIZA: I have an extremely overactive imagination that lends itself to a lot of high anxiety and an ever-looming fear of death. For some reason, though, I’ve found that when I’m working on something that appears horrific or creepy, I become less focused on my mortality.
My fear of monsters, ghosts, or strange, unusual sounds in the night is not my fear of death. I would rather be scared of fiction than be frightened of reality.
CIC: In this comic, you literally “put a happy face” on your fear of death. How does art help cast a friendlier light on things that frighten you?
ADA: Art helps me gain some control over my fears. If I can create something visually irksome or terrifying, what does that mean? Does it mean that my fears in real life are as counterfeit as the two-dimensional world I’ve painted on a wood panel?
If I can create my own fears, maybe there’s a chance I can unmake them, or at least there’s a chance I can overwhelm them with a whole new idea.
CIC: So you’re part of an artist collective called Plus Dog Collective. Can you tell us a little bit about that? What is the importance of community to you as an artist?
ADA: Plus Dog Collective is a collective that my friends and I created post-college. The main two things Plus Dog does are to create anthologies and enter art conventions.
A lot of us came out of school feeling dried and used up. With most of us stuck in non-art-related jobs, there was a real fear that we all kind of failed at life. Plus Dog was a remedy for the stagnant feeling of failure. It became our rallying call to get us unstuck from the mud.
Having a community is just the norm of the art world. You can’t get by on your own, and really it’s worth it to reach out to others around you. Artists are meant to grow and reflect on the world around them. If a person is unwilling to get outside of their own head, they will be cutting themselves off from the only way to stay relevant.
CIC: Are there any other comics and artists that are inspiring you right now?
ADA: I would say the artists and cartoonists who have had the biggest influences on me have definitely been KC Green, Stephen Gammell, and Junji Ito. The latter may be the most obvious if you look at the style of my art, but KC Green may seem like a big surprise.
I really value humor. I feel like the reason life can be so scary or sad is because those feelings only occur in reaction to the loss or the fear of loss of what is good.
Also, humor, when it is successful, is the best tool to relate to your audience. If you can make people laugh, you can make people cry and scream.
CIC: Say you’re a were-animal of some kind. What do you turn into every full moon?
ADA: Another human. Does that count? A taller, cooler human. Or maybe just a house cat.