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BIO

Reid Psaltis majored in oil painting at Western Washington University, completed the science illustration graduate program at California State University – Monterey Bay. He interned in the Exhibitions Department at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, participating in the creation of the museum’s world famous dioramas. Reid’s work has been featured online at the Rumpus, Top Shelf 2.0, Study Group Comics and Trip City. His work has been published by Scout Books’ Good Ink series, Science Notes and Alternative Comics, and he is the illustrator of Dan Berne’s the Gods of Second Chances (Forest Avenue Press). He lives in Portland, Oregon.

IN THE EMPORIUM

Reid’s comics can be found in the Secret Acres Emporium here.


IN PRAISE OF REID PSALTIS

Psaltis (The Order of Things) expands on his naturalistic oeuvre in this dreamlike dark fantasy. Told through impressionistic, wordless dialogue (only a single written word appears in the entire story), Psaltis follows the bizarre adventure of a nameless man, mysteriously drawn away from the trappings of modern urban life and deep into his own animalistic nature. Yet, as he delves deeper, he finds that reconnecting with his buried instincts is as difficult as it is dangerous. Psaltis’s artistic style recall’s Charles Burns’s Black Hole: entirely black and white, near-oppressively the former, and macabre in its magic. The breezy, expressive facility with which he renders deer, wolves, and pigeons is impressive, but the true skill lies not in Psaltis’s knowledge of anatomical drawing, but in his ability to convey each animal’s “language” through symbols and variations. It’s a rare talent who is able to make a reader “hear” sounds on a page without resorting to onomatopoeia. This innovative graphic novel—a somber, sober reflection on humanity’s contentious relationship with nature—won’t soon lose relevance.

– Publishers Weekly

In the end, the man opts for the human world by exhibiting one of the main differences between human and animal, at least, apparently — abstract thought. It’s this ability of humans to conceive of a world and then make it possible, to conjure the intangible as a real world presence on a grand scale, that separates us. And this reality separates us not only neurologically and culturally, but physically, and it creates myths about the animal world that work to separate us further from it. But it’s hard to say that in opting for the human world, the man is rejecting the animal, or even making an informed decision at all. Is he just building his own prison? Or is he already in a prison and just acknowledging that fact? Are humans prisoners of their own abilities? These are the kinds of questions Kingdom/Order asks. It suggests that barriers between humans and the natural world are real because we have made them so, but that doesn’t mean the experiences in either are necessarily doomed to be exclusive.

– Comics Beat

The idea that “something has been lost” as we’ve divorced ourselves from the forests, the fields, and their animal inhabitants is so widespread as to be positively ubiquitous at this point. Just about everyone you meet wishes they had more time to spend in the outdoors, and it seems pretty well obvious that many of us keep pets in order to maintain some sort of “connection,” however tepid and de-fanged, with the animal kingdom. The desire to understand our four-legged friends is as widespread as it is enduring — so what would happen if, one day, we actually could? …All that being said, visual polemics don’t come much more arresting or fascinating than this one, and Psaltis’ cartooning skills are strong. He goes into Kingdom/Order with a very clear message of what he wants to convey, and furthermore with a very clear idea of how he wants to do so, and at the risk of engaging in painfully obvious wordplay, he succeeds wildly at both. By the time you reach the end, you’ll be wondering why the hell we ever came down from the trees.

– The Comics Journal

So there’s one thing I figured out for sure after finishing this book: trying to figure out how much of it is meant to be a dream versus how much of it is meant to represent reality is a waste of time. It’s irrelevant to the point of the story, and you’re bound to get different opinions anyway depending on who you ask… …Give this book a chance, as this might be all the “getting back to nature” that you really need.

– Optical Sloth

A field guide to spotting and identifying mystery fauna, this fancifully illustrated work illuminates a menagerie of creatures, from the possibly extinct Ivory-Billed Woodpecker to the impossibly ubiquitous Jackalope.

– Nicholas Mott, National Geographic

Take the new book from Reid Psaltis, for example. It’s a non-narrative set of drawings of animals and dinosaurs that at first is painstakingly accurate in terms of the drawings and then eventually devolves into wordplay and total silliness. I can’t think of a single comparison in the Secret Acres family as an access point, and that’s what makes the publisher so unpredictable. There’s a drawing of a Bald Eagle talon that’s as good a scientific illustration as you will ever see. The stippling and overall detail is remarkable. The text describing it is a joke at the expense of the Founding Fathers. Other illustrations are gorgeous, almost impressionist water-colors of animals like the Pronghorn, and there’s no amusing commentary at all.

Psaltis mixing things up keeps the reader off-balance in that regard, as one never knows what’s coming next. The commentary gets stranger and funnier as the book goes on, like the remarkable drawing of the Great Horned Owl where its bones are arranged to form the shape of the animal, with only its piercing eyes appearing as per normal. The only comment is “Nightmare fuel for all species of rodents.”

– Rob Clough, High-Low

On the path to Fantasy novel authorship, many an errant knight has been lost within the confines of his own realm. Thank ye gods that we’ve had the mighty hand of Portland artist Reid Psaltis to guide us back!

– The Devastator

Great brushwork, strong black spotting, and careful panel framing let the objects and props speak volumes.

– Forbidden Planet’s Daily Planet

His black and white illustrations and graphic novel work is wonderfully constructed and captures the imagination through a mix of humor and incredible detail and skill. Take some time to look over Reid’s work in more detail.
– The Portland Egotist

You might be tempted to think of it as a silent comic, since each animal thinks and communicates in memes. But still waters run deep, and like strong and silent Reid, there’s so much the work says without saying.
– Gridlords

This is the coolest thing ever!

– Aaron Nels Steinke, author of the Zoo Box (First Second)

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