At the age of 76, the painter/cartoonist Jerry Moriarty moved from his studio loft in Manhattan, where he lived and worked for 49 years, to his childhood home in Binghamton, New York, where he lived from the age of six until he went to Pratt Institute at 18. The artist uses this as an opportunity to interrogate his past via the act of painting as a mnemonic. He invents the teenaged Sally, based upon his sister Pat, with whom he talks and shares his paintings: “The painting becomes a time machine and I am there in the past visiting my Dad,” he tells her.
The book alternates between unconventional pen-and-ink sequential panels that take place in the artist’s present self as he converses with the past; and full-color, acrylic paintings in the manner of David Hockney and Edward Hopper recreating his recollection of that same past. Whatsa Paintoonist? is a masterpiece of concision, remembrance, imagination, and artistry, imbued with the love of life and the love of the artist’s own life.