When he was 9 Roy Tiger Milton had his first episode of strange visions. A decrepit, naked, elderly man with a snake rolled around his right leg talked to him in the back garden of his house in San Bernardino.
Is from this time on when the young Roy starts drawing and writing.
His first works are mainly drawings. Some of them are clearly based on his visions, others portrait his own universe, a universe that very son will be a part of Roy’s life.
Human beings with supernatural features, beasts, fantasy animals, strange places, spaceships, remote planets, etc. Characters that are constantly struggling to escape, to run away from some kind of danger.
Little by little Roy starts introducing phrases into his drawings that later on turn into longer texts.
From this first period we can highlight the comic Bernardino! Bernardino!
In it a little boy with arms on fire and his father go driving around an apocalyptic San Bernardino.
All the basic elements of this first period can be found in this little comic.
A fantastic and tragic view of life, a universe that appears hostile and inexplicable.
Drawings and poems (1960-72)
I’ve chosen this date as the beginning of a new period because is in 1960 when Roy Tiger Milton writes his first poem. A love poem written at age 15.
We don’t know if it was his first love, but we do know that it was something that changed dramatically the way he view human kind and everything that surrounded it.
His tragic vision stayed. Reality still lacked of meaning and man’s real goal is to destroy himself. However it was then that a, until then hidden, sensibility appeared in Roy. It almost seems like from then on he started to see a flicker of beauty in the things that surrounded him, even in his tragedy itself.
All this changes make a big impact that can be seen in his drawings and most of all in his writing. Early poems as The Eyes of Water, He's talking to himself, o To God: I'm not a pessimist, show it.
On 1968, when he was 23, Roy Tiger Milton got married to Latreece Milton in the newly built church of Saint Bridget, Seattle.
From that moment on Roy starts his most productive period.
His poetry comes together with drawings that sometimes illustrate the poem itself and other times just have their own separate meaning.
His writing becomes more and more personal and his poems become passionate and deeply romantic. His only theme is life itself, existence as something tragic and meaningless. Roy takes pleasure from sadness as something beautiful and sublime.
Is there where the real talent of the poet lives, that is his greatest artistic virtue, turning the most devastating reality into something extremely beautiful. This spirit ends up overcoming disaster, changing everything and turning his work into an ode to the beauty that comes from life.
Maturity: A dead body (1973-80)
On 1973 Roy Tiger Milton writes A dead body. His longest, most complex and most influential work.
We can say that until that point in his life Roy Tiger Milton had carefully created, in an unconscious way, his own mythological vision of the universe. And is finally in A dead body where this mythology gains shape in a completely conscious and organized way. A complex framework of characters and places that give meaning to Roy’s world.
This time drawings and poems came together hand on hand. Is like Roy’s work started to gain shape as something homogenous, with its own direction and meaning.
In A dead body, life stops being a mystery and becomes a mysterious place.
The main theme of Roy’s work changes. Life is illusion, our senses, far from perceiving reality, perceive exactly the opposite. Those things that we perceive with our senses are precisely what reality is not.
In this new scenario, Roy’s mission’s becomes full of meaning. To discover reality, to found the real home of men, the promised land, the kingdom of heaven, Nirvana, the final and true home of every human being.
In his following works such as A better war o Banana Sunflower, Roy continues exploring the outside world, revealing the fraud that it is, the great lie that represents.
Ultraviolet Crisis (1980-1985)
From 1980 onwards we can see the last stage of Roy Tiger Milton career.
A profound personal crisis affects the life and works of the peculiar artist. During this period of time Roy Tiger Milton writes only four works.
The first is a series of pencil drawings in which the mythological world of Roy struggles to survive.
The other works are a part of the trilogy called Magnanimity!
In it the author expresses his frustration for not being able to get out of the vicious circle that takes him time and time again to the same place. A fantastic world that creates a fiction that takes him to more fictions, A world that is impossible to escape, because the only possible way would be another fiction that takes you to a different fiction once again.
Immersed in this destructive loop Roy ends up becoming sick. According to the doctors that took care of him he suffered from MDD (major depressive disorder). According to traditional medicine he suffered from melancholy.
On the autumn of 1985 Roy Tiger Milton falls into a coma after having a brain stroke. He is admitted into Northwest Hospital in Seattle where he stays for a month and a half in the intensive care unit. When he comes out of the coma in the beginning of December he goes back home following his own wishes of dying in his own house.
Two days after that Roy Tiger Milton has his last episode of strange visions, 26 years after the last one, with his family around him.
A few hours later he finishes his last poem; Ultraviolet Catastrophe.
After finishing the poem Roy never wrote or draw again, and what is even more surprising, he stopped speaking too. Only once he expressed himself writing something about the origins of Ultraviolet Catastrophe, he then declared that he did not know who wrote it or what it was.
Any work of art, whatever the style must be valued considering the particular moment of its creation, the period, historical, social and personal situation of the artist.
Taking all these parameters into account we can say we are looking at a contemporary American art rarity.
Ultraviolet catastrophe is a composition of ten small poems that together form a bigger poem.
In it the poet talks in depth about his struggle to evade from this fictitious reality and in this case it seems for a minute that he nearly gets there. In the poem, he portraits himself, sometimes as a pastor that guides people to the promise land and sometimes as the sheep that asks to be guided.
According to Professor Winston Lilburne the end of the poem represents the end of Roy Tiger Milton’s own spiritual and existential journey.
On his deathbed the English born poet had finally reached a state that would in itself solve all his conflicts; the disappearance of the core problem, the existence of the ego.
Once the ego that looks for the real world vanishes the search is over.
In this way Roy Tiger Milton would disappear as an individual being, fading into the vast immensity of the imaginary universe. Changing into the only possible reality, as paradoxical as it may sound, the reality that contains everything.
The poem uses Roy Tiger Milton’s characteristic language, a colloquial language sprinkled with classical references whenever the author wants. His prophetic and ambiguous tone, charged with symbolism takes us to other works of the author. The drawings and collages that come with the poem, portrait the fantastic, dark and mythological universe of the author.