The Black Forest: the darker side of Pittsburgh's underground art scene

Unicorn Mountain is a collective of Pittsburgh artists that publishes anthologies of local art, comics, music and literature. Their third anthology, The Black Forest, takes a different tack from their previous collections by exploring much darker, stranger themes. My friend Tara Helfer did the layout and supplementary illustrations for The Black Forest and sent me a copy to check out.

The collection covers a broad range of styles, and is packed with more than twenty different artists' work. Some parts are creepy and scribbly. Others are intricate and mysterious. I've picked some samples of a few of my favorites here.

Adventures With Lesser Known Creatures by Jen Cooney tells the tales of several mythical woodland creatures. It focuses on Eastern US and Canadian creatures, starting with the familiar Sasquatch, but also digs into Bukwas, Albatwitches and the Little People of the Adirondacks with illustrations for each.


Clan of the Cave Mouse by Andrew Davis is one of several comics in The Black Forest. Rosko here, who may be a toy along with the rest of the characters, is mangled and thrown in the sewer. There he's adopted and patched up by sewer rats.


Antelope Eater by Juliacks is a short comic about a boy named Andrew Yak who begrudgingly takes care of his bedridden mother. It's probably the creepiest portion of the book, telling a very strange story with dark, swirly, cutting illustrations.

Lastly, much less macabre than the rest of the book, artists Mike Budai and Brian Holderman made two pinball machines titled Freak Out and Luther's Vendetta, which were shown at the Andy Warhol Museum a few years ago as part of a joint project between Unicorn Mountain and the Professional Amateur Pinball Association. Their hope was to inspire pinball makers to use more original art in their machines instead of boring licensed movie skins.


The Black Forest by Unicorn Mountain Thanks, Tara!



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