Hancock’s universe is so detailed and varied that we had trouble narrowing our selection to just the five pieces we published in the Spring issue. Here, enjoy more of the Austin-based artist’s work, an example of what the New Yorker once described as his “boisterous mythologies.”
A feature from the Spring 2019 issue.
Hancock’s art, which includes paintings, fabricated toys, a theatrical performance, and a graphic novel, defies categorization and pulses with an almost religious intensity. Much of his work has followed the denizens of his alternate reality called “The Moundverse,” where beastly, beautiful Mounds are often attacked by skeletal, sadistic Vegans. There’s a goddess figure named Undom Endgle, who represents the power of Black women as “bringers of color and light,” and TorpedoBoy, a heroic figure in razor-covered cleats. Hancock employs a constantly shifting aesthetic that suggests he can create literally anything.
On the architecture of white supremacy
Let us look again, now, at this beautiful house, read it this time as a series of universally legible signs for white supremacy. You arrive on horseback and wait outside a gate—the first of several barriers, both physical and human, that must be passed through to reach the master—and enter onto a private road that takes you through a cathedral-like apse of oaks, arranged to express the planter’s dominion over the natural world. From this road, you do not see the functional buildings—kitchen, smithy, stables—nor the quarters for the people the planter enslaves; those are small, unpainted, off to the side. The planter’s house stands alone at the end of this archway of boughs, a telos and a temple. Great white columns rise two stories from their plinths, supporting a pediment that drags its tip against the sky. It looks for all the world like a Roman temple. And who lives in temples but the gods?
An Omnivore essay from the Spring 2019 issue.
Due to his health, Leon Redbone can no longer be interviewed. In a way, he’s become a version of the old-time musicians he so admired, about whom little is known: You can only reach them through recordings, archival materials, and the accounts of other people. Longtime friends and band members tell me they knew never to ask about his past. Others say they were sworn to secrecy, and intend to keep the secrets. His own family members say they know little about his early life.
A feature essay from the Spring 2019 issue.
As in all cities, the story of displacement and discrimination is as old as the municipality’s. And while it might seem like a somewhat ahistorical cheap shot to draw a direct, incriminating line from Spindletop’s boom to the swath of corporations that now dominates Houston and its high-risk neighborhoods, the residue of truth is there. Houston, like every other metropolis, abets the long history of industry-induced subjugation that manifests, visibly and invisibly, as endemic environmental racism. It’s written into the city’s code, embedded from day one in the place’s naïve aspirations of itself.
A featured short story from the Spring 2019 issue.
I understood that he had a crush on me, because there is no service that deserves a greater-than-one-hundred-percent gratuity, but the money seemed harmless when it came out of his wallet, like something he’d found and was simply leaving for me to deal with. And after a month of this, I realized that I was making fifty extra dollars a week because of this man. I wasn’t attracted to him, but I was fond of him, I guess because he gave me fifty dollars a week for remembering that he liked Heinz 57.
A feature essay from the Spring 2019 issue.
Kris’s threat to leave was a loaded one. No West Virginian makes that decision lightly, and to be the cause of someone’s leaving is a terrible thing. I personally knew the weight of missing home. During all my years away, even as I enjoyed the freedom of living in a community where I felt completely comfortable talking about my sexuality, I kept my eye on returning to West Virginia. I had never found a place that felt as good to me, both in terms of the natural beauty and also the sense of a close-knit community—that feeling of being a part of something unique and true. Ever since I left I’d had a hope that someday I could return and my queer self and my Appalachian self wouldn’t have to be so split.
A feature short story from the Spring 2019 issue.
Their romance has started in earnest this summer, but the prologue took up the whole previous year. All fall and spring they had lived with exclusive reference to each other, and were viewed as an unspoken duo by everyone else. Little remarked, universally felt, this taut, even dangerous energy running between them. When that began, it was harder to say.
Poems from the Spring 2019 issue.
I didn’t see the line when I crossed it—
only light, making everything new;
here, they say the winters spill out,
white a boll inside my palm;
here, gold adorns the trees,
the sun sheds its effervescence through the leaves;
I touch the place where the master split my head with iron,
even that imperfection is brilliant here;
An installment in John T. Edge’s Points South column, Local Fare.
Calamity and travel arrest time. They beg focus and feed insights. Tourism has taken on some of the functions that religion once served. Here in America, we have ritualized restaurant going, embracing time at table as a cultural passkey, just as we previously codified sightseeing and museum going. Each effort shows respect for (and belief in) a society, a community, a place.