By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily.
If you ran into Andy Robbins on the street in Ranchester, you wouldn’t know that the mild-mannered young man with a beard harbors an unusual talent.
Robbins likes to draw people who might star on the popular Facebook page “Yellowstone National Park: Invasion of the Idiots.” You know, people who ignore park rules and end up getting ripped apart by grizzlies, impaled by bison, or taking acidic baths in 200+ degree temperatures.
But always in a fun, lighthearted way.
Robbins is the author of six books, several of which tell graphic tales of death, gore and mythological creatures. And three of them are, in a creatively macabre way, interactive.
With the 2016 release of his first book, “Yellowstone National Park: A Cautionary Coloring Book,” the Ranchester author and illustrator opened the door to a niche audience – adults with a slightly twisted sense of humor who like to color.
Robbins, who graduated from the University of Wyoming’s Fine Arts program, makes his living as an artist, whether it’s his watercolors, oil paintings or illustrations for books like “Field Guide to Unicorns of North America: The Official Handbook for Unicorn Enthusiasts of All Ages.”
His illustrations and skewed sense of humor also is evident in a publication titled “The Awful Air Travel Activity Book: Word puzzles, connect the dots, mazes, coloring pages, and other fun stuff to keep you sane during the trials and tribulations of modern air travel!”
‘Bad Way To Go’
“I just did another book, kind of tangentially related,” Robbins told Cowboy State Daily. “It’s about dying – in funny ways.”
Funny, that is, if you’re into torture, mayhem and destruction.
His newest book, “Bad Way To Go: True Tales of Dying Terribly” details stories of real people who died in unusual ways – boiled alive in caramel, vaporized by a jet engine or slowly swallowed by a glacier.
“‘Bad Way to Go” details the best of the worst deaths known to humankind in a book sure to make the reader say, “Glad it wasn’t me!’” reads the description on Robbins’ website, andyrobbinsart.com.
In addition to the Yellowstone book, Robbins has released another “Cautionary Coloring Book” about the Grand Canyon.
‘Stupid Is As Stupid Does’
Robbins’ art came to the attention of Cowboy State Daily readers in June when “Yellowstone National Park: A Cautionary Coloring Book” was profiled. That book, which was released in 2016, set the tone for Robbins’ career as a published author.
“I grew up watching horror movies and reading books like that, and I think it kind of segued into, like, true crime, and people can’t get enough of that,” Robbins said. “God knows why, people are fascinated with those kinds of grim stories, I think.”
Sarah Growney, who owns The Thistle gift shop in Cody, agrees.
“I think it’s hysterical,” Growney told Cowboy State Daily. Her inventory boasts a number of gag gifts, so Robbins’ coloring book fits right in.
“I hate to make fun of people who have been caused harm,” said Growney. “But stupid is as stupid does.”
A Book For Everyone
Robbins pointed out that not all of his books are for those with strong stomachs.
For example, his “Field Guide to the North American Jackalope” is suitable for all ages. And he’s considering offering a toned-down version of his Yellowstone coloring book, which the National Park Service might find more palatable than the current edition.
“I talked to Far Country (publishing) about doing, like, a PG version, and kind of tone it down a bit and see if we could actually get it in Yellowstone, which we’ve never been able to do,” Robbins said. “Something that would still be kind of shocking for a 10-year-old, but not quite so gory.”
But for those who have a slightly twisted sense of humor, Robbins said his books are appealing.
“It’s funny in sort of a shocking way,” he said.