Less obvious are the intentions behind the artist’s use of cartoon characters. When asked about this by critic Mark Van Proyen during an interview at the Crocker, Helnwein ducked the question, saying he’d prefer to let viewers puzzle it out for themselves. Here, unlike everywhere else in Helnwein’s oeuvre, relationships are intentionally ambivalent, though one thing seems clear: two of his characters – Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck – seem, in the context of certain paintings, to be up to no good. Take, for example, the interaction between two strategically placed works: Annunciation (Mouse 12) 2010 and Murmur of the Innocents (16) (2010). The first shows Mickey as a leering, snout-nosed rodent; the second is of a bleeding girl who is quite obviously dead. The two pictures stand side by side. On the wall immediately to the right hang twin portraits of Helnwein’s friend, the rock singer Marilyn Manson. In them he appears as his usual mock-demonic stage persona, in full face paint, crowned here, by Helnwein, in Mousketeer caps. Around the corner is a picture of a young girl with a rifle in which, off to one side, stands America’s favorite cartoon mouse. It watches with interest, but no readable expression. On the opposing wall we see a vision of true mayhem, Untitled (The Disasters of War 22) (2008). In it, a soldier carries a limp victim from burning ruins. In the foreground sits one of those creepy Japanese manga dolls, inflated to life-size and looking characteristically dopey and dumbstruck.