Paul Komoda’s Bust of Joseph Merrick

There is only one Paul Komoda in this world. Our first mention of this artist came back in October of 2007 when we first launched – we featured the piece “Blind Love.” This time, I’d like to share with you Paul’s creepy, emotional take on Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man. In addition to being a fantastic artist, Paul also happens to be my best friend in the world. He was there the night that Zoe, Mer and I were all together in the same place, at the same time, for the very first time. ComicCon 2007, Dr. Sketchy’s. Nobody knew each other well at all then, yet. They had us drawing an imaginary George Takei for some reason, in addition to the posing Sketchy’s model. We recognized Mer (whom I’d met only once before) on the street due to her green dreads. Zo was the model, and had a terrible cold. Her usual, high-pitched voice sounded so low that weekend that it was as if she’d been smoking 10 packs a day since she was 2. She was talking to Mer for the first time and I kept saying “this isn’t really what she sounds like!” It was a magical night. Warren Ellis (drink!) was at that ComicCon too, and Molly Crabapple was at Dr. Sketchy’s. That one night had 2 magazine contributors and all 3 editors… before anyone even knew there’d be a magazine.

Anyway, so here’s Paul. Many years ago, we watched David Lynch’s The Elephant Man (see full movie here) together. Now we quote that movie at each other all of the time. Paul just moved to California – 5 minutes away from me! – after living on the East Coast his whole life. The first thing he said when he entered his new room: “this… is my home. I have a home.” Expect great things from this fellow East Coast expatriate, who has finally become one of us, one of us, gooble gobble.

22 Responses to “Paul Komoda’s Bust of Joseph Merrick”

  1. Jon Munger Says:

    Ah, The Elephant Man. Alan Moore really tapped into something totemic about the Victorian Age – a hideously deformed man in a lovely suit with a heart of gold. If he didn’t exist, we’d have to invent him. And, in a sense, we did in a thousand myths and faerie tales throughout the ages.

    I still interrupt friends with “I am not an animal! I am a human being!” in that slobbery soprano. Judging by the looks, not too many people know where it comes from. Or it could just be that I’m shouting in public.

  2. Suzanne Says:

    Huh? Isn’t it JOSEPH Merrick?! My friend Richard Ardagh made some amazing letterpress/screen print posters of a poem used by The Elephant Man, btw.

  3. Jessica Says:

    Thanks Nadya! What a wonderful sculpt…and a wonderful peek into the germination of the Coilempire.

    Suzanne…always right on the money!

  4. Jack Says:

    Wikipedia is helpful here: “Early biographies of Merrick inaccurately give his first name as John, an error repeated in many later versions, including the 1980 film The Elephant Man. This error arose and propagated because most of the early works including Ashley Montagu’s The Elephant Man: A Study in Human Dignity and Frederick Drimmer’s Very Special People, used as research the memoirs of Sir Frederick Treves, written many years after his first-hand experience with Merrick. Treves misreported Merrick’s first name as John, causing Montagu and Drimmer to repeat this error in good faith.”

    Looks like it’s a common mistake.

  5. Nadya Says:

    Whoops! Joseph – I knew that. Sorry guys, I was *so* sleepy when I made this post! My apologies. Fixed.

  6. Ashbet Says:

    Truly amazing. Does Paul ever stop being awesome??!? *wistful sigh of envy*

    Glad to hear that he’s safely relocated, and WOW, what a gorgeous, moving, thought-provoking piece this is!

  7. Mer Says:

    Paul is so friggin badass. I can’t even deal. We need to star a fan club. Instead of Mickey Mouse ears, we’ll wear tumor hats and weeping pustule bow-ties.

  8. essylt Says:

    Stunning! I’ve always been a huge fan of David Lynch and i love The Elephant Man. That bust is breathtaking… A great tribute to Mr Merrick indeed.

  9. Skerror Says:

    Couple months ago, I randomly came across his “Crash and Bleed” collage piece:

    I got a giant kick out of that image. It would be vomit-inducing if it weren’t so much fun. Total tropical sewage that image…the fruitcake at the top made me laugh out loud (in real life)!

    I heard his sketchbook is pretty damned rad as well…

    @Jessica: Coilempire mythology yes!!!

  10. Cameron Says:

    Awesome bust.

    Also, awesome “Tod Browning’s Freaks” reference.

  11. Patrick McCracken Says:

    Absolutely stunning piece. And I too had no idea his name wasn’t John until just now. The things you think you know, eh? Next, someone is going to tell me that you don’t really lose most of your body heat through your head. OH NOES!

    I love the tale of the first meeting of the three of you! It’s like a classic superhero origins story. In the next issue, you all reveal your superpowers.

  12. Mer Says:

    PS: Welcome to the west coast, Paul. It is, in my experience, a far kinder place, and warmer than NYC or Philly in more ways than just weather.

  13. Koldo Barroso Says:

    This is pretty amazing! It would be great to see also a sculpture of Merrick’s face without the dissease, the man behind the monster.

  14. Vivacious G Says:


  15. Paul Komoda Says:

    Good grief, thanks everyone for all the lovely remarks concerning the Merrick piece! A full figure sculpture of him is in the works!

    Mer, thanks for the words of welcome. So far, I’m having a blast, though it still doesn’t feel quite real yet.
    “Tumor hats”… likes it!

    And thank you NAAADYAAAA….fer posting such a sweet…err…post.

  16. Tequila Says:

    And my man crush grows stronger…for a detail junkie like me that bust is a feast! Th nose, the cheeks, the bit above the head…you feel the weight, mass, and form. It’s beautiful really…honestly beautiful.

    So all of this started at Comic Con? Could you three be any more of a geeks dream come to life? Seriously lets move to Utah so I can marry you all. Haha Great story and happy to see the unofficial Coilhouse drinking game slowly become embraced!

  17. rickie Says:

    this post was very sweet.

    1) it’s a very cool sculpture
    2) remembering a time and place from before some serious awesomeness came together
    3) it’s clear how much you love paul, and that’s a very sweet thing :)

  18. Sunshine Says:

    I will never forget the time while Paul and I were temporarily visiting another dimension, that he whipped out the Agony Man, full of sinew and anguish and the treat was, upon closer inspection, these radical patterns superimposed over the excellent sculpting, like icing on a cake. It was a beautiful surprise.

    Publically I want to wish Paul the best of fortune and luck after his recent move. I consider him, if you will, a soul-friend. Having known him for a long time, through good fortune and bad, pleased fully appreciating that I can pick up the phone and see what phantasm he is creating, or relate to him about my art or music.

    My favorite part of this version of the Elphnt.Man is the slight glaze on the eyes.

  19. Decidedly Grim » Morbid Art! Says:

    […] Komoda is an amazing artist who previously sculpted a magnificent bust of John “The Elephant Man” Merrick. Now he’s started a “Human Pathology” series and his first entry is the […]

  20. Abigail Hutton Says:

    Isn’t it John Merrick? I read all the books and a character makes the mistake of calling him Joseph and he corrects him and says it’s john.

  21. Abigail Hutton Says:

    oh my bad! They changed his name for the book and script! I apologize and admit I was wrong :)

  22. Morbid Art! | Decidedly Grim Says:

    […] Komoda is an amazing artist who previously sculpted a magnificent bust of John “The Elephant Man” Merrick. Now he’s started a “Human Pathology” series and his first entry is the […]