Jon Dorn is a filmmaker, educator and cartoonist whose work focuses on conventional storytelling forms like narrative fiction film, documentary, music video and comics. Through allegory, satire and visual representations of the imagination, his fictional work explores the inner lives of well-developed characters.

He has published hundreds of comics, political cartoons, and illustrations, including the comic Cartland. His cartoon work has been featured at the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE), South Shore Comic Con, regionally syndicated by Gatehouse Media, and exhibited at the Huret & Spector Gallery in Boston.

His film work includes music videos, sketch comedy, and commercial video, as well as cinematography and camera credits on independent shorts. His music videos have been screened at events like Rhode Island Comic Con, the SENE Film, Music and Art Festival, and the Silversonic Music Video Showcase.

He is Assistant Professor of Communication and Film/Media at Community College of Rhode Island, and has also taught media production at Emerson College and Bridgewater State University. Jon is a freelance cinematographer and editor; he produces/directs commercial and independent film work with his production company Four String Films and holds an MFA in media art from Emerson College.

Artist Statement

My work is rooted in a lifelong fascination with psychology. Through storytelling, character study, and social commentary, I seek to examine the inner lives of people through multidisciplinary work in conventional media like comics, narrative film, music video, mixed media collage, and animation.

Allegory, metaphor and satire are the chief constituents of this exploration. With characters at the center, my work takes an intertextual approach to subjective representations of the imagination, societal absurdities, and the tenuous nature of interpersonal relationships. The influence of William Kentridge, Don Hertzfeldt, Terry Gilliam, and South Park can be seen in the irony and black humor of my pieces Cartland (series, 2011-present), The Weapons We Made (series, 2016-2017), and The Pentimento of War (2012); modern comics icons Charles Schultz and Bill Watterson, respectively, are evident in the melancholy and daydream-fantasy of Cartland. Comics and cartoons lend themselves to this type of psychological examination: Cartoon art presents simple abstract forms that represent familiar things, taking on an elevated conceptual value, as opposed to one of outward realism. These images occupy a space that exists only in our minds, helping us to relate and apply our own attributes to them. The notion that cartoons are more relevant on a psychological level than tactile or physical (McCloud 1993) appeals to my desire to investigate the unconscious aspects of human behavior.

My film work occupies the same conceptual space, often using cartoons in a way comparable to my still image work. And like those comics, my live action fiction films muse on the imagination, as in the informal series of music videos, Please (2012), Never Seen Runaway (2013), Deep In the Dirt (2015) and To the Wolves (2016). In these instances, imagined images intermingle with memory in ambiguous ways to conjure personal revelations and wistful recollections; the imaginary finds its way into my video sketch comedy work in the form of parody, caricaturing the grand delusions of an unqualified populist candidate in Sully for America (series, 2012–2016) or the winter-induced madness of summer concert organizers in Cabin Fever (2015). These concepts are united by the use of conventional storytelling techniques and well-developed characters, allowing for a colloquial mode of psychological inquiry.