BLAIR’S BRAIN, AN INTRODUCTION BY RICH DANA OF OBSOLETE! PRESS

Blair Davis Gauntt is many things, but above all, he is funny.

Funny haha AND funny strange.

As my graphic designer counterpart at OBSOLETE! Magazine, Blair’s weird, wonderful visual touches give the zine a very cohesive style. As a friend for over 35 years, we share an odd ontological shorthand based on late 20th century popular culture and an utterly absurdist agnostic view of the universe. The cartoons in his book, George Orwell and his Magic Penguin are a result of that sensibility– a bouillabaisse of literary references and fanboy in-jokes, blended in the Cuisinart that is Blair’s brain.

Blair was born into the boozy poolside optimism of the upwardly mobile 1960’s. The child of a Texas petroleum engineer and an Iowa small-town girl, Blair grew up in Singapore attending English prep school surviving on a steady diet of second-hand American culture. He came of age in an environment akin to a J.G. Ballard novel, where ancient Asian culture and decaying colonialism crashed headlong into post-war modernity.

That all came to a screeching halt when his parents split and Blair was cast out of the exotic luxury of Singapore oil culture and into the ultra-mundane... a trailer park in Hiawatha Iowa, with the ironic name of “Bali Hai Estates.” Blair’s fate was sealed... he took his place among the misfits and outsiders, and that is where he has lived his life.

He spent the majority of his 20’s and 30’s in Chicago, where he cut his teeth in graphic design, then returned to Iowa (and back to Bali Hai, his spiritual center.) He has been an Elvis impersonator and a lead singer in a psychobilly band. He is a freelance designer, and hasn’t held a straight job since the 80’s. He loves the TV shows of Paul Henning in a completely un-ironic way. He often comments that if he could have anything in the world, it would be a prehensile tail.

Blair calls me nearly every day, often starting the conversation with “I had an idea....” He cracks himself up. He cracks me up. I love it when he laughs so hard that all he can say, in a choked, desperate voice is... “Oh, fuck, my hernia…”

His brain never stops working. His books and designs are a just peek into that brain and the black and white episodes of The Twilight Zone running inside his head.

Rich Dana
Co-Publisher, Obsolete Press