“ A P R I L
F O O L S ”
I S S U E !
HOGS THE SPOTLIGHT!
AMBUSH BUG • BYRNE’S SHE-HULK • FORBUSH-MAN • MAD in the ’70s • REID FLEMING interviews with FRED HEMBECK & ALAN KUPPERBERG • plus DAVID CHELSEA IN LOVE!
SPIDER-HAM TM & © MARVEL CHARACTERS, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Volume 1, Number 39 April 2010 Celebrating the Best Comics of the '70s, '80s, and Beyond!
The Retro Comics Experience!
EDITOR Michael Eury PUBLISHER John Morrow DESIGNER Rich J. Fowlks
BACK SEAT DRIVER: Editorial by Michael Eury . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
COVER ARTISTS Mike Wieringo and Karl Kesel
INTERVIEW: Fred Hembeck, Comicdom’s Funny Bone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Pull up a chair and take a load off with one of our favorite cartoonists FLASHBACK: Forbush-Man: The Way-Out Wonder! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 The not-so-secret origin and history of Marvel’s most subpar hero
COVER COLORIST Glenn Whitmore
PRO2PRO: The Ambush Bug Interview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming have a Bug up their—whatever
PROOFREADERS John Morrow and Eric Nolen-Weathington
Heritage Comics Auctions Adam Hughes Greg Hyland Al Jaffee Mike Juette Arnie Kogen Alan Kupperberg Stan Lee Andy Mangels Marvel Comics Steve Mellor Allen E. Miller Al Nickerson Tom Powers Jim Salicrup Vanessa Hope Schneider Irwin Schwab Richard A. Scott Bart Sears Larry Siegel Dave Sim Steve Skeates Anthony Snyder Roy Thomas Don Vaughan Matt Wieringo Marv Wolfman Eddy Zeno Tom Ziuko
FLASHBACK: Gamma-Irradiated Humor: John Byrne’s Sensational She-Hulk! . . . . . . .34 Jennifer Walters breaks the fourth wall in this look back at a Byrne classic WHAT THE--?!: Manny and the Mascot: Bob’s Big Boy Comics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44 An original T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents artist found work drawing a diner-distributed freebie ROUGH STUFF . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 Pencil art rarities from the personal vault of Tom Ziuko INTERVIEW: The Versatile Alan Kupperberg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52 A revealing chat with the artist of everything from Captain America to Evil Clown FLASHBACK: MAD in the ’70s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58 Some of the usual gang of idiots regale us with tales of MAD’s most successful decade FLASHBACK: Marvel Gone MAD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65 Remembering the House of Ideas’ Bronze Age parody titles Spoof, Crazy!, and Arrgh! FLASHBACK: Flaming Carrot: The Anti-Anti-Hero . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .69 Bob Burden discusses at length his carrot-headed character—with Dave Sim joining in! BEYOND CAPES: Reid Fleming, the World’s Toughest Milkman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .75 The story of David Boswell’s rogue-to-riches protagonist INTERVIEW: David Boswell: The Man Behind the Milkman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .79 Answers to your Reid Fleming whys, hows, and whens, from the creator himself INTERVIEW: For The “Love” of David Chelsea! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .81 The cartoonist behind the cult indie favorite David Chelsea in Love ART GALLERY: The Beasts and the Bold . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .86 Funny-animal heroes meet DC’s finest in sketches by Breeding, Cullins, Hughes, and Sears BACK TALK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .88 Reader feedback on “Comics Go to War” issue #37 BACK ISSUE™ is published 8 time per year by TwoMorrows Publishing, 10407 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614. Michael Eury, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Editorial Office: BACK ISSUE, c/o Michael Eury, Editor, 118 Edgewood Avenue NE, Concord, NC 28025. E-mail: email@example.com. Eight-issue subscriptions: $60 Standard US, $80 First Class US, $85 Canada, $107 Surface International, $155 Airmail International. Please send subscription orders and funds to TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial office. Cover art by Mike Wieringo and Karl Kesel. Spider-Ham TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved. All characters are © their respective companies. All material © their creators unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter © 2010 Michael Eury and TwoMorrows Publishing. BACK ISSUE is a TM of TwoMorrows Publishing. ISSN 1932-6904. Printed in Canada. FIRST PRINTING.
April Fools Issue
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Ambush Bug TM & © DC Entertainment.
COVER DESIGNER Michael Kronenberg
SPECIAL THANKS Roger Ash Michael Aushenker Big Boy Restaurants Alex Boney David Boswell Brett Breeding Michael Browning Bob Burden John Byrne Katherine Carroll Lex Carson Dewey Cassell David Chelsea Gene Colan Paris Cullins Dick DeBartolo Tom DeFalco Steve Donnelly Shelton Drum Ruben Espinosa Al Feldstein Robert Loren Fleming Rich Fowlks Keith Giffen Michael Grabois Grand Comic-Book Database Larry Hama Dustin Harbin Fred Hembeck
FLASHBACK: Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Sorry, Homer Simpson! This Porker is the real Spider-Pig!
There was a creative explosion in the 1980s that brought us The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, Miracleman, Secret Wars, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and … Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham! And no, I didn’t mean The Spectacular Spider-MAN, although that series was pretty good then, too. I actually meant the Spectacular Spider-HAM! Around 1983, when comics were booming and Marvel and DC were rolling out hits like Uncanny X-Men and New Teen Titans, Tom DeFalco, then a writer for Marvel, decided to pitch something totally new—a parody of Marvel Comics characters as funny animals.
THE (PREVIOUSLY UNTOLD) SECRET ORIGIN OF SPIDER-HAM
DeFalco and Larry Hama, who had just come off a long stint as editor of Marvel’s MAD magazine knockoff, Crazy, brainstormed and came up with Spider-Ham. DeFalco thought the idea would make a great comic and an even better cartoon. “Larry Hama and I were sitting in his office talking about the standard nonsense that creative people talk about,” DeFalco says. “We were talking about Marvel and licensing and that type of stuff. We said, ‘Marvel can license just about anything, but the one thing they can’t license is plush.’ They had nothing for young kids or plush-kind of toys. So Larry said, ‘You know what we should really be doing? Funny-animal comic books!’ “Now, Larry Hama is so wide in terms of the depth of his creativity,” DeFalco continues. “It depends on what you know him from. I think the vast majority of people know him from G. I. Joe or Conan. Or Crazy magazine, which shows the depth of the man. Larry has always been a fan of funny-animal comic books, like Carl Barks’ stuff, and he said, ‘What we should do
Swinging Swine Move over, Spider-Man! Here comes Spider-HAM! Detail from artist Joe Albelo’s cover to Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham #9 (Aug. 1986). © 2010 Marvel Characters, Inc.
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Marvel Zoo-in-One (below) Spider-Ham teams with Captain Americat in Marvel Tails #1 (Nov. 1983). Script by Tom DeFalco, art by Mark Armstrong and Joe Albelo. (below right) Marvel Tails #1’s cover, by Steve Mellor. © 2010 Marvel Characters, Inc.
is a funny-animal comic book.’ And I said, ‘What do you mean, like Peter Porker, Spectacular Spider-Ham?’ And he said, ‘Exactly!’” And so DeFalco and Hama began brainstorming the first Peter Porker story. “We just threw ideas around,” DeFalco says. “In those days, if you wanted to do a one-shot or a title, it was fairly easy. We made up a thing called a new project memo and we called the book ‘Marvel Tails’ and we put it through, mentioning that we were doing it for licensing and stuff, and it was approved pretty quickly. We did the comic book and, as we designed what the character was going to look like, Larry knew this person who made dolls and we commissioned this person to make a Peter Porker doll! We had that doll in the office for years and years and I still don’t know whatever happened to my Peter Porker doll. But Larry and I paid for that doll to be made. We had a wonderful time working on the comic book and it went out and we forgot about it because we went onto the next bunch of projects.”
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Hama pitched an entire line of funny-animal parodies of Marvel characters, including Spider-Ham, Captain Americat, Ducktor Doom, Hulk Bunny, and the Fantastic Fur. “I did drawings of all of them,” Hama says. “I also did designs for little-kid versions of the same heroes.” And history was made with Marvel Tails #1 (Nov. 1983), starring Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham. Peter Porker was a mild-mannered spider who was bitten by a radioactive pig and became Spider-Ham. Aunt May Porker and J. Jonah Jackal first appeared alongside Peter Porker in this issue, which also featured the Goose Rider, Captain Americat, and Hulk Bunny. Mark Armstrong drew the first appearance of Spider-Ham, and DeFalco raves over his artwork for that issue. “Mark Armstrong was fabulous,” DeFalco says. “I had worked with him on a couple of things and he was a natural funny-animal artist. He was such a perfectionist that he could have done anything he set his mind to. He was a very slow and meticulous artist and a great artist. Mark was a freelancer and didn’t work in the office. He had done some work in Bizarre Adventures or something and he had done some work in Crazy magazine.” Also doing the art on that first issue was Steve Mellor and Joe Albelo, who both went on to work on the spin-off Spider-Ham bimonthly series. Mellor drew the cover to Marvel Tails #1. According to DeFalco, the one-shot was created in one afternoon. “Larry and I were sitting around and just started throwing out ideas, and I’m sure we had the basic framework of the story and the characters we were using. I don’t remember if I did that as a plot or as a full script or a storyboard. Too many years have gone by. Years ago, when I
Fred Hembeck: a man who drives an Omnibus? Or, like Galactus, a galactic menace that tried to destroy the Marvel Universe? I interviewed Fred to find out. So, onward with hysterical Fred Hembeck! – Richard A. Scott
Richard A. Scott conducted on August 6, 2009
RICHARD A. SCOTT: I’d like to ask about your professional associations. You did three pages of assistant work for Bob Layton (Iron Man #117, page 6, and Marvel Premiere #47, pages 11 and 14)… FRED HEMBECK: Bob was the first person that I met, after I started my cartooning. After that I started doing the strips for Buyer’s Guide for Comics Fandom. Back then I was working at a gas station booth. I didn’t pump gas, and I took money from people. I had a lot of time for drawing. I was drawing for [the fanzine] The Comic Reader. This woman came up to the window and said, “Oh, you draw comics? My husband draws comics. You probably know him … Bob Layton?” I said, “Oh, sure, I know Bob Layton.” She said, “Give me your phone number.” So I quickly wrote down my phone number and gave it to her. I didn’t hear from her for weeks. Then, on one hot summer day—I was wearing just Bermuda shorts—there’s a knock at the door. It was Bob Layton, and his wife, and their baby daughter. I grabbed a shirt and invited them in. I was so flabbergasted when I first met Mrs. Layton that I gave her the wrong phone number—we had just moved. Bob said he had seen my work that had been out a few months. He asked if I was interested in becoming an inking assistant. Being a serious-style cartoonist was my original goal. I said, “Sure.” For a few weeks, I did work with Bob. Then Bob left town, so that was the end of my background-inking career. SCOTT: Did you feel at the time that was the end of your fledgling career? HEMBECK: This happened before I had anything published at Marvel or DC, with the exception of a letter in Iron Man. I started doing work in my thencartoony style. There were enough opportunities with that. SCOTT: Who are your favorite artists, and why? HEMBECK: The first people you see when you get into comics tend to make a big impression upon you. For me, that would be Steve Ditko. I idolized his stuff because it was so individualistic. Then Kirby—he was everywhere in the Marvel books. He seemed to have so much energy. I loved Carmine Infantino’s design work—The Flash and “Adam Strange.” I marvel at it and think how clever and sophisticated it is. I like the humor of Little Lulu by John Stanley and Irving Tripp. Bob Bolling on Little Archie, my favorite. I try to emulate Al Wiseman’s work on Dennis the Menace. Curt Swan and Kurt Schaffenberger doing Superman. I wasn’t that fond of Gil Kane in the early ’60s. When he started inking his own material about ‘65–’66, in Green Lantern and in the “Hulk” in Tales to Astonish, I really liked those. Neal Adams and Steranko, two favorites [of mine] growing up. I love the clean style of Johnny Craig and
Mid-Ohio Con ’09 Program Cover Convention booklet cover art reimagining the cover to Secret Wars #1 in the inimitable Fred Hembeck fashion. Art © 2009 Mid-Ohio Con/Fred Hembeck. Characters © 2010 Marvel Characters, Inc.
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First published work: Iron Man #112 (July 1978), followed by background assists to Bob Layton on Iron Man #117 (Dec. 1978) and Marvel Premiere #47 (Apr. 1979)
Hembeck books from Fantaco / DC comic strips for the Daily Planet pages in the ’70s and ’80s / Fantastic Four Roast (one of his all-time favorites) / Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe (and how!) / a lengthy run in Marvel Age magazine / “Zoot Sputnik” in ’Mazing Man / The Comic Reader / The Buyer’s Guide to Comic Fandom/The Comic Buyer’s Guide / The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus (2008, Image)
Works in Progress:
Reprints of “Petey” strips in Spider-Man Family / upcoming new “Petey” strips / more of the same zaniness that you have come to expect from Fred Hembeck.
www.hembeck.com / www.hembeck.com/More/ HembeckOmnibusInfoPage.htm / Also, look for Fred on Facebook, MySpace, and eBay!
Wally Wood, two other favorites. Johnny Craig was a great writer, too; his EC stories are my favorite books. SCOTT: Reading through the Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus, I discovered that as a kid you inherited a box of comic books. Harvey’s Spooky was the first comic book you read. Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #7 (Sept. 1955) was your first DC, and Fantastic Four #4 (May 1962) your first Marvel. Any stories about that box? HEMBECK: That box pre-dated the Marvels [that I read, actually]. A friend had brought them to school. Jimmy Olsen was in that box—it was from 1956, before Mort [Weisinger took over as Superman editor]. It had Superman playing marbles on the cover— that’s unthinkable nowadays. It’s [the kind of material] I like to re-read now; the emotions are so heightened in there. Everyone is trying to trick somebody to fall in love with them, become a best friend, betray each other, become a man from the future; some wacky little side issue is going on in every story. They’re entertaining, they’re unrealistic, but they’re fun to read. That stuff got me going; mainly Bizarro (from Superboy #68, Oct. 1958)—this absurd man talking like a baby, having a cracked face, and doing stuff backwards. I started buying Superman because of Bizarro. It blossomed from there. When I was 12 or 13, I thinned out that collection (the only time!) and got rid of 85% of my funny comics (I was, ahem, too mature for them, y’see), saving some choice Archies, Barks duck comics, and Little Lulu. Sad Sack was the only Harvey Comic that survived—and that Spooky, long gone—I couldn’t tell you which issue it was. Wish I hadn’t done that. SCOTT: I had a similar situation (thanks, Steve Cameron!). I got a box of 500 comics as a kid. Virtually every publisher back to the mid-’50s, early runs on the Silver Age books. The first thing I was excited by was Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961). I read FF #1 in 1969! HEMBECK: I’m missing #1; I jumped in on #4— the cover caught me on that one. The box also had a World’s Finest, but everything else was humor comics. It took me a while to graduate to capes. SCOTT: Everyone knows your love of comics is almost without peer. How big is your collection? You cover everything from the inception of comics on, indicating your passion for the field. HEMBECK: I’ve got most everything, Marvel and DC-wise, from 1961 on. I didn’t buy older comics as back issues, I sought out reprints. I have always been fascinated with the history of comics. My knowledge ends around 1990; I kept buying books up until 2000. Nowadays, I don’t read new stuff, but enjoy Silver Age faves in deluxe editions. I have 130 long boxes, full. From 1980 to 1996, Marvel and DC sent me comps. What I know about Marvel Comics now, I read on the Internet. I don’t read the new stuff. I do keep up, I’m curious to hear about the developments without reading the stories. I’d actually plunk down some money if Brother Voodoo was in his own comic. [Author’s note: Since this interview, Brother Voodoo— as Doctor Voodoo—now has his own comic, a New Avengers spin-off, which debuted in the Fall of 2009!]
Daddy’s Got a Neat Box… © 2010 ???
…Little Freddy likes to read all night! Hembeck’s Little Freddy origin story. © 2010 Fred Hembeck.
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[Editor’s note: Normally, BACK ISSUE stays put in its Bronze Age backyard, but our “April Fools” issue just begged for the inclusion of one of comics’ most subpar heroes, Forbush-Man! Al Nickerson’s look back at Forbush-Man’s history starts in the late Silver Age, normally the neighborhood of our friend Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego magazine—but quickly brings us home to our BI era. And Roy the one-time “Boy” has his own humor comic issue of AE in the works, with lots of Not Brand Echh material, coming in issue #95 in July 2010!]
THE SUPERHERO SCHLEMIEL
What is a “revoltin’ development”? What is “absurd”? What is “insane”? Here’s a hint: He also wears red long underwear, a kitchen pot for a helmet, and galoshes, t’boot. Now, if your answer is “Forbush-Man,” then you wouldn’t be wrong. Don’t believe me? Then check out Jack Kirby’s cover to Not Brand Echh #1 (Aug. 1967). Although Forbush-Man originally appeared on the cover to Not Brand Echh #1, his alter ego, Irving Forbush, was first mentioned in 1955. Stan “the Man” Lee recalls that “years ago, I wrote and edited a magazine called Snafu. For the contents page, I borrowed a line from The Saturday Evening Post which had printed, on its contents page, ‘Founded by Benjamin Franklin.’ Just for fun, I decided to use that on the Snafu contents page, but I’d use a funny name instead of Franklin’s. For some reason, I dreamed up the name ‘Irving Forbush’—and lo, a legend was born!”
Welcome to the Marble Universe Detail from artist Marie Severin’s cover to Not Brand Echh (NBE) #8 (June 1968), featuring Forbush-Man. © 2010 Marvel Characters, Inc.
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Forbush Firsts (below) Artists Jack Kirby and Mike Esposito provided our first glimpse at Forbush-Man on the cover of NBE #1 (Aug. 1967). (below right) Issue #5 featured ForbushMan’s origin. Cover by Marie Severin. © 2010 Marvel Characters, Inc.
WHO SAYS A COMIC BOOK HAS TO BE GOOD??
A legend, indeed. In the late 1960s, Forbush-Man often appeared in Marvel Comics’ Not Brand Echh. Using similar humor to that of MAD magazine, Not Brand Echh was a parody of the publisher’s own Marvel Universe. Where did the idea of Not Brand Echh come from? Writer extraordinaire Roy Thomas was an associate editor as well as a writer on Not Brand Echh, and says: “I believe Not Brand Echh came out of a lunch Stan Lee, Gary Friedrich, and I had circa 1967... may have been Gary who first brought it up. Which would be funny if true, since Stan had written lots of parody comics over the years … and I was a far bigger fan of the old MAD comics than Gary was.” If Not Brand Echh was a 1960s comic book, then what was a “Brand Echh”? Stan Lee is able to supply the answer: “I started the Not Brand Echh series because I had been referring to DC Comics as ‘Brand Echh’ in my columns and I figured it would be fun to use that
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name on a mag—and, of course, the only logical name for such a mag would be Not Brand Echh!” Instead of the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil, and Spider-Man, Not Brand Echh featured characters like the Echhs-Men, the Fantastical Four, the Inedible Bulk, Scaredevil, and Spidey-Man. Not Brand Echh even spoofed characters from Marvel’s main competitor, DC Comics, by using such characters as Stuporman, Gnatman and Rotten, Wotta Woman, Green Lampburn … well, you get the idea. How did Marvel feel about making fun of themselves? “We took to it like a duck to water,” says Thomas. “After all, comic-book heroes are mostly inherently ridiculous, so why not make fun of them? But I probably enjoyed as much or more making fun of other companies’ heroes.” Was there any feedback from Brand Echh … umm, I mean, DC Comics, concerning the mocking of their characters in Not Brand Echh? Thomas doesn’t believe so: “No, except that issue #7 with Stuporman on the cover was the first one that didn't sell well … and I know that Stan (and, I believe, Martin Goodman) suspected DC of leaning on the distributor to hurt distribution. But that may have been only a coincidence.” The origin of the Frantic Neighborhood Forbush-Man was chronicled in the classic Not Brand Echh #5 (Dec. 1967). “The Origin of … Forbush-Man” by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby posed a simple question: “Who is this fearless, fighting fanatic—this friendly, neighborhood non-entity in the frantic fright-helmet??” Well, we soon found out. Irving Forbush once worked in the offices of Marvel Comics, um … I mean, Marble Comics. Honest Irv did all of the lame-o jobs around the Marble office that no one else wanted to do … like cleaning out the broom closet, feeding Lockjaw, or being the Red Skull’s sparring partner. Still, Irving Forbush longed for something better. He dreamed of being a superhero. Irving lived with his
When Ambush Bug debuted in DC Comics Presents #52 (Dec. 1982) like Athena sprung from the head of Zeus (okay, more like a belch from the mouth of a drunk at midnight), his impact was not particularly groundbreaking. The character was basically a villain whose mission was to cause trouble and mischief in a Superman/Doom Patrol team-up. But within two years, Ambush Bug had been transformed into one of the most innovative, hilarious, and irreverent characters in mainstream comics. He frequently broke not only the fourth wall (talking directly to the reader), but nearly every comic-book convention his creators could imagine (or at least get away with). After appearing in several backup stories in Action Comics from 1984 to 1985, Ambush Bug went on to star in two limited series (Ambush Bug and Son of Ambush Bug) and several one-shot specials. After a 16-year hiatus, Ambush Bug returned to his own series in Ambush Bug: Year None (2008). The two men who guided the character through most of these misadventures, Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming, recently talked with BACK ISSUE about the ups and downs of loving the Bug. – Alex Boney ALEX BONEY: Thanks for doing this on Labor Day. I didn’t realize it when I first asked you to do the interview today, but Keith pointed out that it’s a holiday. KEITH GIFFEN: Everyone’s out doing sh*t. It’s not like we have anything better to do. The fact that we’re all at home speaks volumes about our social lives. ROBERT LOREN FLEMING: Hey, it’s 9:00 in the morning here, so I’ve still got the full day ahead of me. GIFFEN: And your great plans are…? [laughter] So, what are we doing here? Are we just going to babble? BONEY: Sort of. I have some questions about Ambush Bug lined up. As befits the character, there aren’t really any parameters for it. It’s just us talking about the Bug. And I guess it’s timely, because we’ve got the sixth issue of Ambush Bug: Year None coming up … at some point, right? FLEMING: Actually, not. GIFFEN: No. FLEMING: The sixth issue will never come out. GIFFEN: The sixth issue won’t come out, but the seventh issue will. BONEY: Well, let’s start back at the beginning before we get to the end. I’m having an issue with continuity. In Ambush Bug: Year None #1, Batgirl says Sue Dibny is her mother. This can’t possibly be true. Would either of you care to clarify? GIFFEN: Why couldn’t it be true? Um … okay, Bob, you’re the one who filled that one in. FLEMING: It is true. If it’s in the comics, then it’s true.
Let’s Get Physical Actually, let’s not. A Jane Fonda fitness spoof from Ambush Bug #1 (June 1985). Art by Keith Giffen and Bob Oksner, with words by Robert Loren Fleming. TM & © DC Entertainment.
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conducted September 7, 2009
GIFFEN: That’s right. And as for continuity, my stance on continuity is pretty well known. And that is: What is this continuity you speak of? FLEMING: We published an issue of Ambush Bug— issue #3 of the original miniseries—called “The Continuity Game,” and that was our take on continuity: It’s a con. BONEY: No, the question was a joke. You guys are off the hook for continuity. GIFFEN: Ambush Bug is a book that—I guess to put it harshly—sort of spits in the face of continuity. And yet, oddly enough, when we do Ambush Bug, we find ourselves fascinated with DC’s history—especially the history they would like everyone to forget. If we were over at Marvel, we’d be doing rips on Hercules tying a giant chain around Manhattan Island and pulling it back into place. Those are the things that fascinate us about comics, and they tend to worm their way into Ambush Bug. Ambush Bug is the guy who says, “Hey, c’mere, I want to show you something.” And then he lifts up the corner of the rug and shows you all the dirt swept up underneath. BONEY: Seriously, though, what’s the super-secretclassified origin of Ambush Bug? How did you guys come up with the character? FLEMING: We thought him up. GIFFEN: His secret origin is that we thought him up, and then we drew him, and then we wrote the word balloons, and then DC published it. BONEY: All true on a practical level. Let me try again—better this time. In DC Comics Presents #52, Keith, you did the pencils. But did you create and write the character in that issue too? GIFFEN: No, Ambush Bug was created when I was sitting around in [editor] Julie Schwartz’s office. He was gassing on about a DC Comics Presents story he wanted me to do with Superman and the Doom Patrol. This was when Paul Kupperberg was writing Doom Patrol. And I just burped out the name “Ambush Bug,” which had been rattling around in my head. After that, I just sort of made it up as I went along. I put him in the costume and gave him a set of abilities that … well, we ditched pretty fast. Paul Kupperberg provided the writing in that issue. He dialogued my plot and pencils. The second issue with Ambush Bug was another issue of DC Comics Presents [#59], which had the Legion of Substitute Heroes in it. I provided the plot for that one and Paul dropped in the dialogue. FLEMING: That issue is the only Ambush Bug story that I wish I had written. That was pretty damned good. In the first one, he was just a villain. It wasn’t really the character. The one that most had the Ambush Bug spirit before I came along was the issue with the Legion of Substitute Heroes. That one still holds up really well. GIFFEN: When Bob and I pulled the character into the back of Action Comics, what he was going to be about started to crystallize. BONEY: Like Bob said, he started out as a villain. Then he tried his hand at being a hero because he was inspired by Superman, but it never really took. Was he
originally intended to be more than a villain or a prankster figure like Mxyzptlk? GIFFEN: He was a throwaway character. He was meant to be a villain in that one issue, and then I’d move on to something else that would hopefully net me a couple bucks. The fan response was such that Julie said, “Let’s bring him back.” And then, when the issue with the Legion of Substitute Heroes came out, the fan and reader response was such that Julie offered me the back of Action Comics. It was a choice between Ambush Bug and Airwave. I think he made the right choice. [laughter] BONEY: Bob, how did you get pulled into the project? FLEMING: I was the proofreader at DC at the time. During that period, before I left the job to write Thriller, Keith and I became friends. When I first got there, part of my duties was to return the artists’ original artwork. They used to come into my office to collect their artwork, and I wanted to keep them in the office so that I could get to talk to them and make friends with them. I found an ashtray that was in my desk drawer when I got there. It was huge—the size of a hubcap. I stuck that thing way out on the front corner of my desk, as close to the door as I could, right in front of a chair that they could sit in.
April Fools Issue
We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Datacards! All you need to know about the boys behind the Bug can be found on this intro page (below) to Ambush Bug Nothing Special #1 (Sept. 1992). TM & © DC Entertainment.
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Tall, strong, sexy, and green are all adjectives commonly associated with the jade superhero giantess originally known as the “Savage She-Hulk,” whose first series lasted a brief 25 issues. After cancellation, the She-Hulk fortunately made her way into the pages The Avengers, under the skillful pen of Roger Stern, which easily lent the terms team player and exciting to her list of attributes. Then along came John Byrne, who took Stern’s cue and brought Jen Walters into the Fantastic Four as the Thing’s replacement, easily adding the words dynamic and scene stealer to her résumé. Let us also not forget the new moniker, sensational, which Byrne gave She-Hulk with her very first graphic novel, setting the eventual stage for her second series. And what, keen readers, was the operative word to describe She-Hulk in this new comic? Funny! Yes, that’s right—She-Hulk, a former second-string character, had cemented her comeback in the Marvel Universe, not because she had a dark edge á là Wolverine or the Punisher, but because she was a strong, articulate woman whose comedic timing and zany misadventures made us laugh out loud in 1989—all thanks to the wit and vision of Mr. Byrne! One can argue that when it comes to The Sensational She-Hulk’s— Excuse me a second, faithful BACK ISSUE readers… there’s someone knocking at my wall. Hold on a second!
To m P o w e r s
She-Hulk! I mean, Ms. Walters! It is quite an honor to be standing in your superheroic presence!
Save the geek-talk for your fanboy readers, Powers. You can do two more things for me right now. Yes, Ms. Walters?
First, stop drooling—it discolors the green ink on my legs. Ink?
Straight from the comic books! All this fourth-wall stuff is complicated, especially when I’m crossing into fan-land with BACK ISSUE! Fan-land? BACK ISSUE is a serious rag—you get exciting interviews with the pros, fascinating comic-book history from the insider perspective, mind-boggling original comic art—
Shut, it Powers! Good boy. Now, for the second thing I want you to do for me... No words—just nod. That’s better— a hack-writer who’s neither seen nor heard. Powers, my friend, it’s time for you to step aside, so I can give the readers a true insider perspective on The Sensational She-Hulk! But—
Lean, Green Comics Machine How I love a good sound effect! Let’s see now … it’s She-Hulk here, readers, tapping away her beautiful, green fingers on Powers’ keyboard…
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A 2007 She-Hulk commissioned illustration by John Byrne. Courtesy of Anthony Snyder (www.anthonysnyder.com). © 2010 Marvel Characters, Inc.
Okay, boys and girls, here’s the article’s new title:
The Byrnester and I go way back, for those of you who didn’t know. Powers already mentioned that Byrne’s buddy Roger Stern had worked wonders with my character once he took over writing The Avengers with issue #227 (Jan. 1983). What Powers didn’t mention was that Byrne couldn’t wait to get his typewriter and pen on me, so he stole me from Roger for his own book, The Fantastic Four, beginning with issue #265 (Apr. 1984), when I returned as the Thing’s replacement after Ben Grimm decided to stay behind adventuring on the Beyonder’s Battleworld. And what a rocking time I had—then Byrne left the book to draw a certain hunky alien boy scout for the Distinguished Competition, and I soon found myself back in the pages of The Avengers. Yes, my friends, if Marvel didn’t put a ban on characters smoking, I may have lit one up right now—for dramatic effect, naturally. Oh, hold on a second, this is a print article, so you can use your imagination to picture me smoking a cigarette—preferably a long, stylish one. Now we’re ready for the dirt! Yes, Byrne sweeping me off my sexy feet and propping me on his drawing table only to repeatedly dump me would prove to be a theme in my life. Thank God, then, that I’ve been in the spotlight in various Marvel titles over the years, which stops me from aging, according to Byrne-boy’s twisted but true way of reasoning. But he couldn’t keep away from me for long after “Byrning-out” on cape-drawing, so he returned to illustrating my voluptuous self with The Sensational She-Hulk #1 (May 1989), once more fueling the fantasies of a sweaty herd of pre-pubescent fanboys— the same ones who are now reluctantly careening into middle age and probably gripping the pages of this magazine in the thin hope I’ll leap out from these typed words and make their naughty fantasies come true—
Jennifer Walters, Esq.
okay, let’s get this over with...
Take a Chance on Me The Jade Giantess threatens fanboys’ X-Men comics on John Byrne’s cover to Sensational She-Hulk #1 (May 1989). © 2010 Marvel Characters, Inc.
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Oh, my head…
Powers, is that you? What am I saying? Of course, it is! “Oh, my head”—it’s that type of clichéd dialogue I expect from a writer of your low caliber. What do you want? I’ve been knocked out by a woman made of steel-hard paper! Things are kind of freaking me out right now!
Hey, buddy—I’m doing you a favor here. If I hadn’t shown up, your readers would’ve been flipping to more exciting articles in this magazine—even if their subject matter involved Marvel’s Dennis the Menace or Smurfs series!” But what you’re doing is way worse, Ms. Walters— the bitter, “ex” character Byrne-bashing and insulting our BACK ISSUE readers!
Moi, bitter? Powers, I know you’re searching for a witty verbal repartee, but I’m ready to feed you another green sandwich of the four-knuckle variety! Please listen to me, Ms. Walters—the male BACK ISSUE readers reading this piece have had enough angry women in their lives—particularly the readers whose ex-wives and girlfriends didn’t understand their compulsive, religious need to collect comics! Add in the fact that you threatened to rip up their valuable X-Men comics on the cover to issue #1 of The Sensational She-Hulk—
That’s called a sales technique— a successful one, I might add! Tell you what, Powers, as an attorney, I can confidently say that you’ve made a decent argument for the defense of me not knocking you out again. What about the article?
I’m going to help you write it! Just pull out your dog-eared index cards that contain your Q&A with Byrne, and I’ll offer some commentary! Really?
Questions. Now. And call me Jen. Okay, uh, Jen, the first question I asked Mr. Byrne was, “What are your thoughts concerning She-Hulk’s origin in The Savage She-Hulk #1 (Feb. 1980), and female spin-off versions of male characters in general?” And he kindly replied, “I’m generally not a fan of female versions of characters (Supergirl and Batgirl being notable exceptions in my youth). My initial reaction to She-Hulk was much eyeball rolling and heavy groaning—as seemed to be the reaction from most of the fans at the time. Then, when her own title was canceled, Roger Stern picked her up for The Avengers and made her seem interesting. As to her origin—well, I guess it was as good as any!”
I guess Byrne-boy pretty much shares my sentiments on that topic. At least I’m grateful that Stan the Man Lee didn’t make me a mutant. What’s the next question?
Wall of Confusion Jennifer Walters, with gal pal Weezi, breaks the fourth wall on page 9 of Sensational She-Hulk #4 (Aug. 1989). Art by Byrne and Bob Wiacek. © 2010 Marvel Characters, Inc.
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Some food for thought: Which comic-book creator produced the most widely read comic of the Bronze Age? Would you believe … Manny Stallman? No joke! For 17 years throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Stallman wrote and drew The Adventures of Big Boy, a comic-book series produced for Bob’s Big Boy restaurants as freebies for pint-sized customers at the popular chain. A staggering amount––more than five million copies––was doled out to children each month. In pure Stallman style, the artist––best known for his “Raven” backup feature in Tower’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents in the mid-1960s––mixed humor with messages meant to instruct and inspire youngsters as he chronicled the adventures of the titular oversized, checkered-overalls-wearing restaurant mascot; Big Boy’s girlfriend Dolly; and his doggy Nugget (hot trivia: Nugget was born on Dolly’s birthday, according to issue #311’s “Dear Big Boy” letters column). Entrepreneur Bob Wian began the first Bob’s Big Boy restaurant in Glendale, California, in 1936. It quickly became a nationwide chain, farming out menu and mascot to regional franchise holders operating under different names (Azar’s Big Boy in Framingham, Massachusettes; Shoney’s Big Boy in Battleboro, North Carolina; etc.). (One of the oldest Bob’s still standing is in the Los Angeles suburb of Toluca Lake. The outsized statue of its tubby trademark character remains a magnet for members of the Comic Art Professional Society, which holds monthly meetings in neighboring Burbank.) In 1955, Bob’s restaurants began handing out The Adventures of Big Boy to visiting kiddies. The first issue was written by Stan Lee and drawn by Bill Everett (both of whom Stallman collaborated with as an inker on such issues as Timely’s Strange Tales #57, Apr. 1957). Poster designer Lucian Bernhard, Archie’s Dan DeCarlo (whose Dolly looked Betty-esque), and Amazing Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko were among the notable artists who illustrated issues of the giveaway. After an impressive 35-year run, the comic ceased publication with #466 in 1990. More than 15 years passed before a new cartoonist studio revived the series in 2007, continuing with #467. Surely, most serious comic-book collectors held little interest in such a blatant promotional exercise as Big Boy. Yet under Stallman’s aegis, the series was alive with wonderfully wonky art that often betrayed its own childlike aesthetic for a sketchier, approachingrealistic style reminiscent of “Raven.” “Jewel Thief Mystery” (#243, 1977) is an example of Stallman’s kiddie art losing its cartoon form. In this “whodunit,”
Bronze Age Bestseller Manny Stallman’s cover to Adventures of Big Boy #274 (1980) features Donny and Marie Osmond (also seen in last issue’s Wonder Twins article!). © 2010 Big Boy Restaurants International, LLC.
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To m Z i u k o
Happy Halloween, fright-fiends!!! Nah... It’s the “April Fools” issue, cats and kittys— let’s have some fun!
One of the best things about original comic-book art is what you sometimes find on the back of the page. Here are two examples—one by Scott Shaw!, the other by John Byrne. Both date from the 1980s— Scott’s “Starro of David” was found on the back of a Captain Carrot original, while John's was on the back of one of his Superman pages. Scott was just being his usual mirthful self; what John was up to, I have no idea. TM & © DC Entertainment.
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conducted June 8, 2009
He Gets By with a Little Help from His Friends Many of the characters drawn by Alan Kupperberg throughout his career, in a piece kindly produced especially for this edition of BACK ISSUE. Thank you, Alan! Characters © their respective owners.
Alan Kupperberg is one of the more underrated talents in the comics industry. I’ve been a fan of his since my childhood, especially of his run on Marvel Comics’ Invaders. I got the idea for this interview several months back when I was reading the letters page of BACK ISSUE. I saw that Alan had written a quick note to clarify some published art credits. It immediately got me to thinking, “Whatever happened to this guy?” I approached editor Michael Eury about finding out and conducting an interview with Alan. Michael readily agreed and I set out trying to catch up with the New York-based artist. One of the things that always intrigued me about Alan Kupperberg is his range. He can write, pencil, color, and letter. He can also pencil and plot 52 • BACK ISSUE • April Fools Issue
an icon like Captain America and then delve into the depravity of National Lampoon’s Evil Clown. That in itself is a scope of immense proportions! I was intimidated when I spoke with Alan. I mean, this guy has worked with all the legends: Kirby, Romita, Wally Wood. I thought I might find someone quite aloof and difficult to approach. The person I spoke with was neither. While Alan does have a great deal of pride in his work and creations, the person I discovered was a genuine and thoughtful individual, very careful to answer all of my questions while making me laugh out loud at some of the stories he told. I enjoyed our interview and I hope you will as well. – Lex Carson
LEX CARSON: It appears that your first work as an illustrator was at Atlas [Seaboard] Comics and shortly thereafter at Marvel Comics. Is this correct? ALAN KUPPERBERG: At Atlas I was production manager and did lettering and coloring. Finally editor Larry Leiber assigned me the penciling on The Cougar #3. The book was canceled before I went any further than starting the page layouts. That was my first time laying out an entire superhero book. And I was having a very difficult time of it. So it was a blessing that it didn’t proceed. My first pro humor work was for DC Comics in 1972. CARSON: What work was that? KUPPERBERG: My first comic work was in Young Romance #183, I believe. A feature called “Page Peterson’s Do’s & Don’ts of Dating.” Vinnie Colletta inked it and made my work appear professional! DC had acquired the rights to publish some of Larry Harmon’s British-produced version of Laurel and Hardy. DC put together a 100-page digest. The proportions of the British pages were different than the American proportions, so artwork was needed to make the pages taller. I did the “extending” work. I also penciled a Laurel and Hardy page or two, written and edited by John Albano. But the digest never saw print. DC published Laurel and Hardy #1, a 20¢ comic. It had a beautiful cover by Mike Sekowsky, beautifully inked by my pal Frank Giacoia. Inside was a new Albano lead story drawn by Mike Sekowsky and Frank, but mostly it was British reprints. I did a lot of extending work and updating of the fashions and hairstyles for Dorothy Woolfolk’s romance titles at DC when they had the 25¢, 52-page books. CARSON: You worked for Sick Magazine, also, in the ’70s. What was some of your more memorable work there? KUPPERBERG: I contributed to two issues, June 1977 and August 1977. What was memorable about working for Sick was the company I was keeping. Besides the great Jack Sparling, I worked with Joe Gill. A few weeks ago, if you had asked me if I had ever worked from a Joe Gill script, I would have said, “no.” Charlton published that iteration of Sick. I didn’t remember that I had done art for Charlton! The art director was Jack Sparling. I also worked for Martin Goodman’s Parody Magazine under editor Tony Tallarico, around 1977. CARSON: What were some of the things you remember working on in that one? KUPPERBERG: “Parody Magazine Interviews a TV Repair Man,” and I did a King Kong parody. It looks like I really hacked it out. More importantly, I had also worked on Sally Forth for Wally Wood. That was tremendous. CARSON: Was Wood fun to work with? In some of his later interviews, he seemed somewhat disillusioned. KUPPERBERG: Woody was terribly cynical and very depressed. I had been working up at Continuity Associates for Neal Adams. Neal’s phone rang and it was Jack Abel calling from the Wood Studios in Valley Stream, New York, on Long Island. Jack and Syd Shores rented studio space
“The Canarsie Kid” in The Canarsie Courier (July 20, 1967) / “Page Peterson’s Do’s & Don’ts of Dating” in Young Romance #183 (Jan. 1972)
The Amazing Spider-Man / The Mighty Thor / The Incredible Hulk (syndicated comic strip) / Howard the Duck (syndicated comic strip) / The Invaders / The Avengers / Justice League of America / The Mighty Crusaders / Flyman / National Lampoon (Evil Clown Comics) / Spy magazine (The Fantastic Foursome) / Cracked / Crazy / Sick / Parody / Obnoxio the Clown and the X-Men
Works in Progress:
Evil Clown Comics, The Complete Collection / The History of Comics, The Graphic Novel / a 40-page commission comic
alankupperberg.com / comicartcommissions.com/Kupperberg.html / www.comicarthouse.com/kupperberg.html
alan kupperberg Photo courtesy of Alan Kupperberg.
Knock-Outs The volatile Mike Tyson/Robin Givens marriage is spoofed in this original cover art by Alan Kupperberg from the Jan.–Feb. 1989 issue of National Lampoon. Courtesy of Heritage Comics Auctions (www.ha.com). © 2010 NL Communications.
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The 1970s wasn’t just the “Me Decade,” it was also the “MAD Decade.” Between 1970 and 1980, the iconic humor magazine enjoyed unprecedented popularity and the highest sales in its history, at one point selling nearly 2,800,000 copies a month. Those were glory days that, sadly, started to decline with the growing popularity of video games and VHS movies in the 1980s and myriad Internet distractions in the 1990s and beyond. But prior to that inevitable slide, observers say, MAD was at its peak, throwing funny yet insightful jabs at everything from race relations to the Nixon White House. MAD has always been a reflection of the times, regardless of decade, say those who pen the words and draw the pictures. But to understand its subtle evolution throughout the 1970s (arguably one of the most surreal decades the world has ever seen), one must know the magazine’s unusual history.
MAD entered the world in 1952 as a humorous color comic book, priced at 10 cents and written, edited, and generally fussed over by Harvey Kurtzman. Jealous of fellow EC editor Al Feldstein, who was making good money writing, editing, and occasionally illustrating EC’s horror, crime, science-fiction. and suspense comics, Kurtzman approached publisher William Gaines about what he could do to boost his own salary. Aware that Kurtzman, who was writing and editing Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat, was really a humorist at heart, Gaines suggested that he create a humor comic. In that moment, MAD was born. The early issues of MAD poked fun at the most popular comic books and comic strips of the day, but once Kurtzman settled in, he broadened his subject matter to include television, motion pictures, and other aspects of popular culture. A gifted graphic designer, Kurtzman had particular fun with MAD’s covers. Issue #19, for example, looked just like a horse-racing form, while the cover for issue #20 was an exact replica of a black composition notebook—ideal for fooling teachers. MAD became a 25-cent black-and-white magazine with issue #24, primarily to avoid censorship from the Comics Code Authority and to keep Kurtzman in the EC fold. Kurtzman had been approached by Pageant magazine, and Gaines, who felt that MAD couldn’t survive without the balding humorist at the helm, offered to turn MAD into a magazine if he agreed to stay. Unfortunately, the Kurtzman era was short-lived. In 1956, he approached Gaines with an outrageous demand—51 percent ownership of MAD, or he’d walk. Gaines was livid and fired Kurtzman on the spot, which was exactly what Kurtzman wanted because it allowed him to accept an offer from Playboy magazine publisher Hugh Hefner to edit a slick, more adult humor magazine
What … Me Worry? Norman Mingo’s cover for MAD #185 (Sept. 1976) was one of many of the magazine’s swipes at politics of the decade. TM & © EC Publications, Inc.
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D o n Va u g h a n
titled Trump. Adding insult to injury, Kurtzman then turned around and raided MAD’s staff, luring away artists Will Elder and Jack Davis. However, Gaines had the last laugh—Hefner killed Trump after just two money-losing issues. Kurtzman’s departure left MAD without an editor. At the recommendation of family and friends, Gaines offered the position to Feldstein, who had exhibited a flair for humor by writing and editing Panic, EC’s own contribution to the growing glut of MAD imitators. Feldstein, who had been pounding the pavement looking for work following sergio aragones the demise of EC’s comics line, immediately accepted. To say that Feldstein was a lucky man would be an understatement. Though his budget for MAD post–Kurtzman was relatively meager, he managed to rebuild its staff with a remarkable collection of gifted writers and artists, including Frank Jacobs, Arnie Kogen, Larry Siegel, Tom Koch, Dick DeBartolo, Bob Clarke, George Woodbridge, and Don Martin, most of whom would continue to work for MAD for decades to come. (Feldstein also tried to broaden MAD’s appeal by featuring works by the era’s most celebrated humorists, including Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding, Ernie Kovaks, and Stan Freberg, but eventually dropped them in favor of his own stable of writers.) Under Feldstein’s deft stewardship, MAD found its voice, and readers found MAD. Circulation grew steadily throughout the 1960s, which, though relatively staid compared to the decades that followed, still managed to maintain a sharp editorial edge via such features as “Hippie: The Magazine That Turns You On,” “The Ten Commandments—Revisited,” and “East Side Story,” a deft parody of West Side Story featuring the United States and the Soviet Union as rival gangs set against the United Nations. “We improved our product and found a younger, more receptive readership,” observes Al Jaffee, the creator of the wildly popular “MAD Fold-In.” “Originally, under Harvey Kurtzman, MAD’s fans were college kids who liked its rebellious attitude toward establishment bullsh*t. When Al Feldstein succeeded al jaffe Kurtzman as editor, he leaned more toward popular humor and less toward sophisticated satire, which brought in large numbers of younger high schoolers and increased circulation.”
Laugh-In and Fold-In (above) A Sergio Aragonés strip from MAD #193 (Sept. 1977), and (right) an Al Jaffe “MAD Fold-In” from issue #196 (Jan. 1978). TM & © EC Publications, Inc.
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The best place to start, in this case, would be at the end. The end of Not Brand Echh, that is. Not Brand Echh was the irreverent humor comic book published by Marvel Comics in the late 1960s. Lasting only 13 issues, it nonetheless set a new standard for self-deprecating humor in comic books, poking fun at the best of Marvel’s superheroes as well as the Distinguished Competition’s. It was a critical success, but lagging sales led to cancellation of the book in mid-1969.
So why then, only a year later, did Marvel launch a new humor title called Spoof? Former Marvel Comics editor and writer Roy Thomas says, “I’ve never known. Stan [Lee] just announced one day he wanted to start a new mag called Spoof, and that it would be more of a general parody mag, not a superhero one. We were trying to branch out in that period.” Adding to the mystery is a two-year gap between the publication of the first and second issues of Spoof, for reasons lost to time. (Marvel would likely not have had the sales figures on the first issue in time to cancel—or postpone— the second.) Spoof was a departure from the format of Not Brand Echh, typically featuring parodies of movies and television shows, along with the occasional satire on popular culture. In that respect, it bore some resemblance to MAD magazine. When asked if the resemblance was
Mirthful Marie (left) Marie Severin’s cover preliminary for Crazy! #3 (June 1973), courtesy of Ruben Espinosa. Note that in the final version (inset) the Human Torch and Invisible Girl figures were dramatically altered. © 2010 Marvel Characters, Inc.
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“The Lunatic Side of Life” (left) Marie Severin’s cover to Spoof #1 (Oct. 1970). (right) Spoof #2 (Nov. 1970) took on the movie version of Tales from the Crypt. © 2010 Marvel Characters, Inc.
intentional, Thomas replies, “Only in a vague way. I suppose it was hoped it would attract some of the same audience.” Marvel’s humor comics used many of the same writers and artists that graced their superhero books. Thomas indicates the creators “were asked if they’d like to do such a story,” and several took them up on the opportunity for a change of pace. Some of the creators, like Stu Schwartzberg, had also contributed to Not Brand Echh. The primary artist for Spoof was Marie Severin, who brought to the stories the same wry sense of humor and gift for caricature that had made Not Brand Echh a favorite of fans. Marie also penciled the covers for Spoof. Of Marie, Thomas notes, “she was an excellent humor and parody artist.” Marvel Comics writer Marv Wolfman, who also penned several stories for Spoof, concurs. “Marie was the absolute best humor/satire and otherwise great artist Marvel had,” Wolfman says. Roy teamed up with Marie and her brother John on one of the finest stories of the series, “Tarz an’ the Apes,” in issue #2. In the lampoon of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ tale, Thomas pays homage to the artistic Severin siblings [including Marie’s brother, John] when a character that was fired says, “Hey! Don’t I get Severin’s pay?” Another Marie Severin story from the second issue of Spoof, plotted by Roy Thomas and
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written by Marv Wolfman, was a parody of the 1972 movie, Tales from the Crypt. As for the source material, Wolfman notes, “I had seen the film and, of course, had known all the original stories from the comics.” The story was rife with irony, in that Marie was called upon to pencil a comic-book satire of a motion picture that was based on the comic book she originally colored. Among the television shows parodied in Spoof were the cult classic Dark Shadows, as well as the long-running medical drama Marcus Welby M.D., both also illustrated by Severin. The “spoofs” of the television shows tended to be based on an amalgamation of the programs, rather than a specific episode. Spoof was certainly not a chore for Wolfman, who says, “I loved it. I really enjoyed writing them.” Although the typical approach at the time was the “Marvel method” of writing synopses rather than full scripts, Wolfman adapted his style as necessary for the genre: “I went back and forth depending on who the artist was and how much free time I had. Humor requires complete scripts but my plots were very, very tight.” One of Wolfman’s stories for Spoof was titled “What If … Celebrities Ran for President?” and it featured Western film actor John Wayne as one of the candidates years before another Western film actor would enter the White House. Irony or premonition?
Did he really read 5,000 comics in a single sitting to win a bet? Will that many comics really give a person brain damage? Can you actually scale walls using toilet plungers? Would anyone really fight crime wearing swim fins and a large carrot mask with a flame on top? Will they let you gallivant across town on a nuclear-powered pogo stick, throwing stink bombs and blazing away with a brace of automatic pistols? Will the world accept a blue-collar, working-class superhero? With no superpowers? These were the questions in 1979 when comic-book auteur Bob Burden unleashed one of the strangest, most addictive and iconic comics characters of its day. Flaming Carrot fights crime not only for the fun of it but for profit, occasionally keeping the booty he finds on unconscious or riddled criminals. He’s a party animal and a womanizer. When he runs out of death cards to leave on the bodies he sticks baby carrots in the noses and ears of his victims. Sometimes he covers their faces in tin foil for good measure. He sneaks up behind the bad guys and encases them in a giant sock. Recently he became the first comics character to go through a whole adventure in his pajamas. And his #1 issue goes for over $200.
THE CARROT SPROUTS
Today, the surreal and picaresque Flaming Carrot is known and loved by comics readers the world over, but it took a while for his legend to take hold. Flaming Carrot first appeared in Visions #1 in 1979. In that first eight-page story, the Carrot battled the Red Dyke. The art was kind of crude and the Flaming Carrot didn’t look as svelte as he does now, with the mask being thicker. Where did the Flaming Carrot come from and how did he end up here? “I started out in comics; in comic fandom, actually,” recalls Bob Burden. “I was a reader and fan first, then a dealer in comics and original art, and eventually a writer. I couldn’t find anyone to draw the stories I was writing—too crazy, maybe—so I wound up drawing them myself.” Burden never went to art school and is totally self-taught: “I was drawing all the time. I had a knack but learned mostly from looking at original art. I’d sit there for ten or 20 minutes and just stare at a page of Kubert art or Kirby or Frazetta. I remember a sheath of loose pencil layouts by Gil Kane that I had. They were amazing. I think I learned more looking at the layouts, studying the construction and composition and all that, than I did from anything else. After Flaming Carrot came out, I got some mentoring from other artists. Jim Steranko was just a wonderful help. He took time out to give me advice and it was really good advice.
The Real Carrot-Top An undated Flaming Carrot sketch by Bob Burden, courtesy of Heritage Comics Auctions (www.ha.com). (inset) Flaming Carrot originally appeared in the hard-to-find title Visions. Flaming Carrot © & TM Bob Burden.
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“When the first Flaming Carrot came out in 1979, I was barely surviving in Atlanta. I was dealing comics and movie posters and old ’30s toys, comic original art, and other antiquities, and marginally staying alive. It was a frugal, Bohemian lifestyle. “But I only really worked maybe five or ten days a month. I did conventions, ads in the Buyer’s Guide, hit flea markets, antique shows, and shops to buy. So I was able to goof off and party and live life the rest of the time. I really wanted to be a writer, but I was convinced that I needed to ‘live life’ before I could write about it. The old comics and other antiquities gave me the opportunity to do that. “The initial story? My roommate, Lamar Waldron, was making this comic magazine/fanzine called Visions. It was going to be a high-class fanzine. Four-dollar cover price! “Well, he was working day and night on his story for Visions. He was really into all the Golden Age fine-line inkers, guys like Alex Raymond, Mac Raboy, Lou Fine, and Alex Kotsky. And he was putting in so much detail. I didn’t think he would ever finish the story. “Now, I come home one night from a happy hour, and he’s there, working on his story. He had been working on this one page, the same page, all week. So I sit down at my drawing table, ya know, like, ‘Here’s how ya do it’—and I drew the first Flaming Carrot story. And all in one night, I wrote it and I drew all eight pages and inked two of them, all in one night. And that was when I was still inebriated. “The idea had been rolling around in my head for a while. I’d just reread the [Jules] Feiffer book on comics and Jim Steranko’s History of Comics and the idea of doing a hero along the lines of some of those really strange Golden Age superheroes from the really early ’40s just kind of grabbed me. The idea was kind of camp but progressed to the surreal real fast. “I was really into a lot of the ‘avant’ movie directors in the late ’70s, like Louis Bunuel, Jean Cocteau, Felini, Bergman, and Woody Allen. But not just movies, I liked all kinds of surrealism: Alfred Jarry, Salvador Dali, the Marx Brothers. I mean, I had been writing and drawing all my life and got serious about it when I was about 14 or 15,
but by my 20s I wanted to do everything: poetry, comics, movies, lyrics, oil painting … I was sort of artistically manic. I remember Jerry Iger (one of my first mentors, Will Eisner’s first partner, and creator of Sheena) told me something that Winsor McCay, Jerry’s first mentor in comics, had told him: ‘You’re a leaf in the wind, and when you settle down, that’s where you’ll be.’ I settled down in comics, doing Flaming Carrot and that’s where I am. “I think there were 1,000 copies of Visions #1 printed but about 200 of them were destroyed in a fire. It’s kind of an expensive book now. I think it’s like $300-500 for a copy. Crazy, huh?”
A NATURAL LAMPOON?
Did Burden see Flaming Carrot as lampooning superheroes? “Not at all. I loved comics. It was just some fun,” he replies. “I started out doing Flaming Carrot because it was fun to do. I wasn’t driven. It wasn’t a painful labor of passion. It was a happy, wonderful thing. “A year later my friend Lamar Waldron called me up and said, ‘Hey, everybody liked the Flaming Carrot. Let’s do another Flaming Carrot story.’ He probably just wanted to fill pages and was being charming and nice, but I was naïve back then and was happy people liked it. “I drew that second Flaming Carrot story in, like, two days. And it was one of my best stories I ever did. The Artless Dodger story. Later I went on to flesh that little eight-page story into a full-length 24-page story in Flaming Carrot #3, the only time I did a ‘remake,’ and I think it was even better the second time.” Flaming Carrot’s manly action, gadgets, and his way with the women may remind readers of James Bond, and rightly so. “As a kid, I loved the spy/secret-agent genre that exploded back then,” says Burden. “The James Bond stories were great, but more than that, I dug the Matt Helm paperbacks and the Derek Flint movies. I saw Our Man Flint and that was it! I knew right then that whatever I did, I would be the Derek Flint of my field. Flint was kind of a surrealist secret agent and the king of total cool. “Probably there’s some bits of Conan DNA in the Carrot, too. See, Conan, like Flaming Carrot, was a bit stupid and when he got into a tight situation, he would just as soon pull out his sword and slash his way out. So Flaming Carrot blasts his way out in a hail of gunfire. “Maybe, in the whole scheme of things, Flaming Carrot is the first anti-anti-superhero. I think Flaming Carrot may be the next step beyond Hemingway’s Nick Adams or Salinger’s Holden Caulfield or Lee and Ditko’s Spider-Man. I think Cool Hand Luke was kind of the high point of the anti-hero thing. Then you have Flaming Carrot! “Overall, the anti-hero is sort of pathetic, lonely, and downtrodden. He’s intellectual and fairly smart but shy and sort of doomed. Well, Flaming Carrot’s the opposite of all that! Sure he’s got problems: He’s stupid, goofy looking, and has no superpowers. But instead of being gloomy and introspective, he’s up and at ’em, ready to go at the drop of a hat.” According to Burden, other influences on the Carrot include “for the humor, the Marx Brothers, W. C. Fields, and Ernie Kovacs. “But humor and jokes are like one-trick ponies. You do it for attention. Storytelling you do for respect, for the art of it, and for yourself. “Then my writing got weirder and weirder. I enjoyed humor a lot, but I like movies and poetry and all kinds of artistic expression! I remember how T. S. Eliot’s ‘Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ turned my head around when I first read it in high school. I became interested in odd literature, the offbeat, and arcane. “I was always writing this weird, strange literature. I called it Electra-Fiction. So when I hear Dylan music or W. S. Burroughs, I’m curious.
Flaming First Issue The Flaming Carrot’s first spin-off comic, cover-dated Summer–Fall 1981. Flaming Carrot © & TM Bob Burden.
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Reid Fleming, World’s Toughest Milkman originated as a full-page strip in the Vancouver, British Columbia, weekly underground newspaper Georgia Straight. The year was 1978 and the Milkman replaced artist/writer David Boswell’s own earlier effort titled Heart Break Comics. Living in Toronto when Heart Break began in 1977, by the time Reid Fleming debuted Boswell had moved to Vancouver, where he resides with his family to this day.
THE MILKMAN COMETH
After the Georgia Straight work ended, Boswell decided to turn Fleming’s exploits into a comic book. By 1980, when Reid Fleming, World’s Toughest Milkman #1 was released, Boswell was a competent artist with excellent storytelling skills. His style is reminiscent of V. T. Hamlin’s on Alley Oop, with cross-hatching and a certain roughness to the art. And just as Oop will take on all comers, so will Reid Fleming mix it up with a fearlessness that belies his dumpy appearance. Normally one who didn’t purchase a non-superhero book published by the independents, I had to take home this black-and-white comic for the title alone upon seeing a first-issue reprint in the mid-1980s. Turns out that Fleming is a superhero/anti-hero with powers after all! He has inhuman strength and is nearly invulnerable to terrific falls from his sometimesflying milk truck. Heck, he can outrun a motor vehicle when the need arises. There’s even a Batcave sort-of feel to the headquarters of Milk, Inc., the place where Reid works. Like a subterranean lair, trucks drive up steep ramps after unloading dairy products from a train which lumbers directly into the cellar. Emerging from a tunnel, the locomotive transports special milk from a secret pasture that few have ever seen. Originally self-published, Reid Fleming soon moved to Eclipse Comics with a new #1 in 1986. It was the start of a five-part opus titled “Rogue to Riches.” The “rogue” part came from Mr. Fleming’s on-the-job behavior. For instance, his choice of beverage while driving his route was Owl’s Roost Rye Whiskey, 90 proof. He especially hated Mondays and destroyed a store’s worth of alarm clocks by squeezing them until water came out, throwing them against the wall, or tossing them in the toilet. When he finally made it to work, he’d sometimes muscle his way into customers’ homes to pour milk into their fish bowls, toss cartons of eggs on their floors, or confiscate their televisions to watch his favorite program. By midday, Reid would either plant himself on someone’s couch or hide the chocolate milk he was supposed to deliver so he could rush home to watch TV. No matter how much his job threatened to interfere, Fleming never missed a daytime episode of The
Making Mother Proud David Boswell’s World’s Toughest Milkman on the cover to Reid Fleming #3 (Dec. 1988). Reid Fleming © & TM David Boswell.
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Dangers of Ivan. He was mesmerized as the show’s star lay comatose for the duration of each episode. The Dangers of Ivan became The Horrors of Ivan when after six years the show’s befuddled star finally awakened and arose from his coma, only to fall out of a window near his bed. Reid even wrote a fan letter in which he requested (and received) an autographed photo from the now-dead and skull-faced television actor. Ironically, the deceased Ivan gained the ability to speak, though his exclamations made no sense. Fleming remained as enthralled as ever. Reid’s girlfriend, the thrice-divorced Lena Toast, had a program, too. She co-hosted a talk show called Commander Bob and Betty with a bizarre fellow who wore a science-fiction costume and could shoot rays from his fingers. He and Lena traveled around in a flying house to interview people. When an unnamed actor (who was obviously Paul Newman) visited their set, he acted like a jerk and was zapped by the Commander. These subplots appeared out of nowhere and speak of the comic book’s wonderful strangeness. A fellow milkman was Fleming’s best friend. Like any good Canadian, Lowell Cooper, a.k.a. Captain Coffee, would utter the rhetorical “Eh?” during conversations. When he wasn’t sleeping on the job, the narcoleptic Captain (presumably drinking decaf) bragged about his buddy Reid Fleming to those who would listen. Even when Reid played tricks on him, which was fairly often, Captain Coffee uttered a few curse words but remained loyal. Reid liked Mr. O’Clock, the president of Milk, Inc., but the company supervisor, the aptly named Mr. Crabbe, was his nemesis—his Lex Luthor, his reason to exist. Crabbe helped get him fired but only after Fleming splashed the flat-headed, Frankensteinlooking curmudgeon with milk, threw him in a river, punched him in the stomach, and stole his car. Once, Crabbe commandeered another milk truck and shot his pistol at Fleming while the two rammed each other as they caromed down the road. Later he sabotaged Reid’s delivery vehicle so that the motor, transmission, and brakes all failed at once. That would result in Fleming’s ninth truck being totaled and nearly got him killed by the company train. But as dangerous as Mr. Crabbe was, at times even he was afraid of Reid.
“I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO SHUT UP!”
The gun incident with Crabbe wasn’t the only one for Reid. Within a six-page span of the second part of “Rogue to Riches,” different customers took both rifle and frying pan to the milkman. Fleming prevailed, however, by choking one with his necktie and administering knuckle sandwiches to the other. Another way of Fleming expressing himself was by threatening to pee on patrons’ flowers. Occasionally, he did shower objects of disdain with a stream of urine, including his alarm clock and the malevolent Mr. Crabbe.
Got Milk? (top) Early visuals for the primary characters, which actually didn’t change a lot as the series evolved. From 1980. (left) Fractured, kaleidoscopic panels portray this nightmare sequence from the third chapter of “Rogue to Riches.” Reid Fleming © & TM David Boswell.
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conducted by e-mail November 4, 2009
EDDY ZENO: How do you look at Reid Fleming and his supporting cast this many years down the line? DAVID BOSWELL: I see Reid Fleming, Lena Toast, Captain Coffee, Mr. Crabbe, Mr. O’Clock, and all the others as freeloaders and layabouts who ought to be supporting me for a change. ZENO: How have the characters evolved? BOSWELL: I’m not sure that the characters have evolved. Each has a certain archetypal quality that I believe may be the key to their appeal. I sure hope that doesn’t sound pretentious or too thinky. ZENO: Where do you draw the line between reality and fantasy when scripting and illustrating the comic? For example, houses have normal foundations but the set for the Commander Bob and Betty Show consists of a flying studio. BOSWELL: A little fantasy goes a long way, so I’m pretty strict about using too much. The world around Reid Fleming should be ordinary, normal, and plain, the better to set off Reid’s somewhat eccentric behavior. Perhaps you’ve noticed that Algy, the dog who seems to live at Milk, Inc., occasionally speaks English. He doesn’t speak in every issue, and when he does, he’s limited to one word. ZENO: How does your love for old movies influence your storytelling? BOSWELL: I like the speed and concision—and the brevity—of comedies made by [Buster] Keaton, W. C. Fields, Laurel and Hardy, etc., and try to maintain pace and rhythm throughout. The trick is to create the sense of movement in a medium [comics] where there is no movement at all, just static images. I like and admire the lighting and cinematography in many films from the ’20s and ’30s, and use light and shadow as expressive elements. ZENO: What made you choose the occupation of milkman for your anti-hero? Did you grow up on someone’s route for morning dairy? BOSWELL: No conscious choice was made, nor was there any influence. Reid just “happened” while I was sitting in the sun with a sketchbook and a little something to smoke. The date was June 29, 1977. Don’t go looking for “Rosebud.” There isn’t one. The milkmen I saw as a child were all very well-behaved. ZENO: Please talk about what led to the teaming of Reid Fleming and Bob Burden’s Flaming Carrot? BOSWELL: I’d met Bob in Dallas in 1990. We were each nominated for a Harvey Award, and we both lost. Bob’s a fun and gregarious guy. He called me on the phone in 1998 to pitch a crossover with Reid and Flaming Carrot. He’d done a few team-ups with other cartoonists and I guess had done well with them. I must confess to being reluctant about the idea, as it seemed to me that these two comic-book characters inhabit completely different worlds. Finally he talked me into it, although economic necessity was certainly a factor. ZENO: You’ve stated in the past that you don’t read comics. Did that ever change? What comic books plans do you have for the future?
Knockin’ ’Em Dead The cover to Reid Fleming, World’s Toughest Milkman #5 (Nov. 1990), by David Boswell. Reid Fleming © & TM David Boswell.
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It came and went like a summer fling … yet lingered for many years afterwards like the old flame whom could not be extinguished. Shortly before Eclipse Comics was totally eclipsed out of the business in 1994, the independent publisher released a four-book, “odd-format” miniseries, David Chelsea in Love, by the eponymous cartoonist. As the title might suggest, this most unusual comic-book masterpiece was an autobiographical glimpse into creator David Chelsea’s bachelorhood, exquisitely illustrated in a seductive black-and-white fine line that allowed the writer/artist to travel to surreal places, rich with visual metaphor and fantasy sequences. Later collected as a trade paperback, David Chelsea in Love, in short, told the true story of Chelsea’s volatile 1980s love affair in New York’s East Village with Minnie, a fickle, dissolute, promiscuous woman four years Chelsea’s senior who uses abortions like they’re birth control. Unfortunately for David, she is neurotic and saddled with an abusive boyfriend. Depending on her mood, the mercurial Minnie breaks up and makes up with David, bouncing from lover to lover in-between. As a result, David becomes emotionally confused, reacting by looking for love in all the wrong places. Other girls enter the picture. Plenty of sexual montages ensue. A precision snapshot of doomed romance, David Chelsea in Love (DCiL) may well be an amazing document capturing the moral confusion and emotional instability of the dating world post–Sexual Revolution (although it’s a much more fun read than that sounds). DCiL influenced and/or anticipated a good deal of the comic-book confessionals that cluttered alternative sections of comics shops for years to come (including my own 2003 book The Nine Loves of El Gato, Crime Mangler). Chelsea grew up in Portland, Oregon, where he attended the Metropolitan Learning Center, a progressive school that nurtured his nascent cartooning. In 1977, he moved to New York City, and DCiL chronicles the events of his personal life that he experienced from age 21–24. He was 32 when Eclipse published DCiL in 1990, the same year that he married his wife, Eve. They left New York in 1995 to settle down in Chelsea’s hometown. At 51, Chelsea resides in Portland with Eve and their two children, a son, 13, and a daughter, ten. He is miles away from the emotionally roiled, self-centered, swashbuckling lothario he exposed like an open sore in his whimsical, comical, and titillating DCiL series. Primarily an illustrator, Chelsea cartoons only on occasion, but still has a couple dozen good panels left in him, as you will discover. (Interesting fact: At one point, Chelsea was supposed to illustrate the graphic novel American Widow, the autobiographical 9/11 saga by Alissa Torres published in 2008. “But the difficulties of working long-distance and some creative differences led Alissa to replace me early on,” says Chelsea, who nevertheless appreciates Torres’ shout-out to him in her acknowledgments section.) What better day than on Valentine’s Day (2008) to catch up with the creator and talk about the old flame he almost left behind—the comic-book industry—and the love child they created: David Chelsea in Love. – Michael Aushenker
Love Stinks Writer/artist David Chelsea kept few secrets when chronicling the ups and downs of his relationship with sometimes-girlfriend Minnie. TM & © David Chelsea.
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Modern Romance (top) A Chelsea sketchbook strip. (middle) Week 37 of the daily incarnation of David Chelsea in Love. (bottom) A flyer for DCiL. Scans courtesy of Michael Aushenker. TM & © David Chelsea.
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MICHAEL AUSHENKER: I remember stumbling onto David Chelsea in Love on the alternative shelves at Golden Apple Comics in Los Angeles. On many levels, the book seemed so courageous, it was hilarious. I thought you had a lot of balls to not only present yourself as the protagonist of your comic and to lay bear your personal life, but to draw yourself often in full-frontal nudity. DAVID CHELSEA: [laughs] Seems to me that the Joe Matt stuff was more out there. He was jerking off. I never showed myself doing that. Seeing what Crumb and Matt had done, I had to be as frank as possible to probably play in that league. AUSHENKER: Visually, it looked like Winsor McCay’s wet dream. CHELSEA: I was trying anything and everything I could think of. Harvey Pekar was an influence, some of the strips that Linda Barry was doing at the time. She was commenting on heartache and blasted love, Joe Matt, Justin Green. I had done comics before but this was the first ambitious thing I had ever done that was published. AUSHENKER: How long after you broke up with “Minnie” did you embark upon DCiL? CHELSEA: I was working on a version of it in-between breaking up and getting together—published eight years after the final breakup. I sent her a note to let her know about it. She was a pretty good sport. And then, a year later, she got mad at it and we weren’t friends. Then we were friends again. AUSHENKER: Did your portrayal of her bother her? CHELSEA: She blanched a little when she heard it was translated in French [laughs]. Every publisher that has published my work has gone out of business. Eclipse folded shortly after publishing DCiL. [Chelsea’s other series] Welcome to the Zone barely got reviewed, hardly sold. It came out the year that I moved from New York to Portland, and Kitchen Sink immediately went out of business. It’s out of print in the States. There’s no cult clamoring to translate Welcome to the Zone into French. A company put out a trade paperback of DCiL four years ago, and they went out of business, too. This did not lead to a fabulous permanent career in comics. I now do commercial illustration. However, practically everything I do leads back to an art director who saw DCiL. It was a great career move. AUSHENKER: A glorified portfolio piece. CHELSEA: Absolutely. I liken it to being an exotic dancer. In exotic dancing, there are a lot of strippers who are stars because they’ve been in porn films. Getting your face onto a couple of video boxes is a great way to get a better price and raise your tips. I’m out there selling myself. And I was out there selling myself in my 20s, too, and it was very difficult to stand out from the crowd. Being the artist of DCiL made me more of a high-profile commodity than being just an illustrator. AUSHENKER: So was DCiL your first professional work? CHELSEA: I don’t know if I was professional then because I made very little money from comics. Fewer than a dozen comic-book creators, outside of superhero comics and newspaper strips, can make a living at this. AUSHENKER: This is your big opportunity to say that you are an artist and that David Chelsea in Love is a work of pure fiction with not a shred of truth whatsoever. CHELSEA: [laughs] AUSHENKER: To what extent is the story real and to what extent is it exaggerated? CHELSEA: I condensed dialogue. AUSHENKER: [laughs] So let me get this straight: This isn’t a literal translation of your entire love life.
by BART SEARS
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Batman TM & © DC Entertainment. Courageous Cat TM & © Telefeatures.
Our old pal Allen E. Miller recently shared with us these sketches, commissioned back in 1990, and what better issue to present them than our April Fools edition?? (And Allen—where’s the Atom and Atom Ant?)
Published on Oct 5, 2013
BACK ISSUE #39 (100 pages, $6.95) ushers in Spring with some of comics’ funniest “April Fools”! KEITH GIFFEN and ROBERT LOREN FLEMING chat “...