The line-drawn and watercolor illustrations created by Mu Pan demand careful study. The Brooklyn-based artist blends history, pop culture, and folk art into astonishingly detailed scenes that are grand when drunk in all at once, but contain little surprises on closer inspection.
Mu Pan describes himself as a bitter person, and views his paintings as a way to "find justice." Born in Taiwan to a military family, Mu Pan often focuses his work on grotesque, surrealist reinterpretations of famous battles and military figures, with a particular focus on America and East Asia. The image up top, 1894, places Godzilla and a Giant Squid in the midst of the First Sino-Japanese War, while 1943 puts Gamera in the Pacific Theater of World War II. It's well worth checking out the detailed crops of the paintings on Mu Pan's blog to see all of the small, careful touches he has inserted in the pieces and their brutal depictions of war.
These aren't the only kaiju pieces to spill from Mu Pan's pen and brush. The Loyal 47 Ronin juxtaposes Godzilla with the legendary Chūshingura, and Shinsengumi Blood and Wind makes Mothra the vehicle for the police force of the 19th-century shogunate. And he has plenty of other strange and disarming critiques of war on his website and blog.
Detail from 1894:
Detail from 1943:
Kristen Holmes of Columbia Television News interviewed Mu Pan about a year ago, lending more insight into his motives and artistic process: