When I first saw Paul Gulacy's work I hated it. I think it was the Terminator: Secondary Objectives series he penciled (Karl Kesel inking if I'm not mistaken). I think it was because the figures read so stiff that I didn't connect with it but I can't really be sure what it was. I appreciated the commitment to the image he had in each panel. The shadows were great. But there was something... off. It's still hard to put my finger on what it was that struck a chord. Whatever it was (or is, because his work still moves me) I couldn't forget it or his name. Years later, when I was in art school, I read an interview with Steve Rude where Rude heaped praise on Gulacy's work in ways I hadn't seen many comic artists do at that point. I was an immense admirer of Rude's work so his words carried a great deal of weight. I revisited Gulacy's stuff, in particular his legendary Master of Kung-Fu run, with a new lens and something flipped. Where I had hated his work initially I now loved it and not just in equal measure. I loved it well beyond most anything else I'd seen in comics. I can say that Gulacy's work probably had more of an effect on my creative life than any other artist. It's his work that inspired me to start making my own comics. His work is confident but also weird. But it's weird in a way that it doesn't know it's weird. It's shooting for a kind of quality in cartooning that echoes realism but misses completely. It doesn't know it's missing the mark. It's using all its will to bend itself into realism and bring the viewer along. "See! This is how the world looks!" But its contortions end in a wholly unique result. When you see a Gulacy piece you instantly know it's from his hand. If anyone picked up the torch Steranko abandoned when he left comics I think it was Gulacy. But he used that torch to light his own peculiar path. If it's possible he heaped even more intensity into his drawings than Steranko, leaving behind the brushy ink renderings for the more-precise pen most of the time (depending on who was inking him really). It's the intensity found in Gulacy's work that makes you love the images and the stories they tell. I started to see that same quality in other creative spaces in the world around me. It doesn't matter if the artist is missing the mark of their original intention if their emotional commitment to the craft is solidly intact within the work whatever faults are present become assets. It's a philosophy I adopted and probably saved me as an artist when I was wallowing in the quicksand of perfectionism. Gulacy made me realize whatever strangeness we possess but aren't conscious of is not a reason to wilt but a reason to be celebrated. It's those strange qualities unique to each individual that ultimately lead to one's personal visual language. Gulacy's own visual language is like no other.

Benjamin Marra is the creator, writer, and artist of the comics NIGHT BUSINESS, AMERICAN BLOOD, and TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror), all published by Fantagraphics. Acclaimed writer Grant Morrison chose Marra as a collaborator on the first issue of the relaunched HEAVY METAL Magazine. Marra had two serialized webcomic series appear on adultswim.com. His most recent book is JESUSFREAK, written by Joe Casey and published by Image Comics. In 2016, he was named one of the Art Directors Club's Young Guns. He illustrated the cover of American Illustration 35. In 2017, he was nominated for a Grammy Award for his album art of Wayfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmare, a collection of obscure 1970s post-Age-of-Aquarius Heavy Metal.