Elvis Stars in Army of Darkness in Dave Berns' Iron Forge Press Creation

A few weeks ago, artist Dave Berns introduced an image of Elvis Presley as the Army of Darkness protagonist on the internet. The King stands tall, triumphant, muscular arms holding his shotgun high in front of the gates of Graceland. The artist created a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to afford a printing of the image with Iron Forge Press.

Chuck Loose of the Fort Lauderdale-based printing and graphic art company says: "Dave is an amazing artist and one of the few that I know of that really understands the media of serigraphy. The guy has a lifetime of experience, from Cracked Magazine and the Weekly World News to producing some of the coolest gig posters we've had the honor to produce."

We asked Berns to delve deeper into his infatuation with the King and this cult zombie flick. He notes that it goes back to his days as a student at the Joe Kubert School, which he calls "a place where grown-ass man-children (or overgrown-ass, as the case may be) learn to glorify the male archetypes they're most infatuated with, in color and line, for mass consumption."

In between, as he says, "countless bong re-loads," he and his male friends watched Army of Darkness. "By the time I graduated, that VHS tape was worn out as bad as my first porno."

Describing the film's premise, Berns concludes, "The movie's hero, Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell), closes out the flick by hamming it up to a babe he's just saved from a crazed demonic zombie with a goofy-assed Elvis impersonation saying, 'Hail to the King, Baby!'"

Given that Berns is fan of the musician, he says, "the visual 'what if?' of this piece has been rattling around in my head for years. There's not a whole lot more to it than that... Nothing terribly deep about it. Just a fun tribute to two things in pop culture that make me happy."

He's already sold a bunch of posters that haven't even yet been produced. He's also exhibiting a full-sized giclee print at the Nerdcore Gallery show at Ink and Pistons tattoo shop in West Palm Beach.

"Printing his work is always an interesting and fun experience," Loose says of the artist, "since each subsequent ink color application reveals more graphic detail that is not always apparent at a casual first glance. I notice his gig poster work tends to elicit the kind of reaction we aim for: Upon first viewing there's the 'Whoa! Cool!' effect as the viewer's eye grasps the image, reads the text, absorbs the 'big picture,' followed by a longer gazing, the revelation of more visual detail and the more knowing 'whoaaaaaa' reaction, 'There's a lot of stuff going on here.'"

Berns isn't done creating music-focused images with Iron Forge Press either. He's got two more gig posters on deck for Willie Nelson and Tenacious D. He'll also be showing his work in other galleries. Triumphantly, he admits: "I'm well on my way to accomplishing my 2013 goal of establishing myself in this developing niche of the larger art and illustration world."

Hail to the King.

Posters are available for pre-order through Ink and Pistons, 2716 South Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach. now and prints will be available by no later than January 26 at the shop and on hotdamnarts.com.

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