Super Art Fight is the self-described “Greatest Live Art Competition in the Known Universe.” From its humble beginnings during Katsucon 2008’s “Iron Artist” event to its current status as a nationally touring act, Super Art Fight has evolved into an enormously funny and endlessly entertaining show. Returning to Awesome Con for a fifth year running, Super Art Fight brought their distinct brand of humor and artistry to their two performances and left audiences somewhere between shocked, awed, and giddy with laughter.
In general, the concept of Super Art Fight involves two artists (or two teams of two artists in tag-division bouts) drawing at the same time on the same canvas. The artists will start with a particular theme assigned by the announce-team, and will try to assert their dominance on the canvas by often drawing over and repurposing whatever their opponent has created. Each bout runs 25 minutes, with each five-minute interval marked by a spinning of the Wheel of Death.
The Wheel of Death is a collection of topics pitched by fans, including anything and everything from Manscaping to John Cena. Every five minutes the wheel spins and each artist must incorporate a new topic into their work.
At the end of 25 minutes, bouts are decided using a decibel reader–whichever artist (or team of artists) lands the loudest reaction, wins. This not only anchors the bouts in a scientific manner, but discourages people from being jerks and booing: that just makes more noise and gives the artist you’re booing a better chance of winning.
If this all sounds like one giant mess, that’s kind of because it is. But it’s a big giant mess that works and is absurdly entertaining. As they say, the best way to understand a Super Art Fight is to watch one, so make sure to check out the video below to get a sense of how this all plays out.
But the real question is what makes Super Art Fight so special. To that end, I’ve compiled a list of five reasons to love Super Art Fight.
The artists of Super Art Fight are well aware that they aren’t just on stage for the purpose of drawing; they’re there as performers. To that effect, the artists create characters for themselves that range from giant robots made of cardboard to outrageous aliens to a vaguely European baron who is very much in love with himself. Each character has his or her own quirks and no too characters are even remotely alike, and although every artist is easy to root for, you’ll quickly find yourself cheering for some just a bit more than others (like my personal favorite, ze baron).
Marty Day and Ross Nover play the role of hosts, commentators, and stand-up comedians while the artists do their thing. Though it might initially seem somewhat superfluous, given the fact that all of the artists and their outsize personalities do quite a good job of entertaining the fans, Ross and Marty do a great job of keeping the show lively. They comment on everything: the art, the artists, the Wheel of Death topics, each other, and the audience.
It might seem obvious, but one of the primary reasons to go see Super Art Fight is the art itself. Not only are all of the artists skilled performers, adept at creating entertaining characters, but they’re all incredibly talented artists in their own right. Most come from comic book or animation backgrounds, and it shows in each canvas.
Saying that Super Art Fight has a dedicated following is an understatement of epic proportions. Each artist has his or her own devoted following, the “Wheel of Death” chants that accompany each spinning get louder and louder as the show goes on, and there’s even a large number of in-jokes for longtime attendees (Ross sucks). Much like professional wrestling, the artists might be the stars of the show here, but a large portion of the show’s quality rests on how into it the crowd is. A loud and raucous crowd makes for an excellent Art Fight. Fortunately, that’s the only type of crowd you’re likely to get.
Super Art Fight Unleashed is a riff on the more mainstream version. Though most Super Art Fights are all ages shows with a general PG-13 to light R ratings, Unleashed is the NC-17 cousin who just got back from a stint in juvie. Gone are the costumes, along with much of the pageantry. Gone are most of the more overt references to nerd culture. In their places is the raunchiest, filthiest, most disturbing set of images put to paper. It’s incredible. Plus, attendees to Super Art Fight Unleashed shows are privy to the Unleashed super secret handshake.
Long story short, if you have the opportunity to check out a Super Art Fight when they make an appearance near you, please do so. You will absolutely not regret it.
“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”