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Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011


Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011

Uncle Jam Quarterly, Issue 100,Vol. 38, Winter 2011 Copyright © 2011 by Eastwind Studios - All Rights Reserved. All images copyright 2011 by respective artists, writers and photographers to cover the entire issue. Burr Jerger 1917 - 1982

Stu Weiner 1915 - 1985

Uncle Jam Quarterly is published whenever we get enough people in one room to do it, usually once every quarter by Eastwind Studios. Any similarity to any other publication, living or dead, is purely the fault of the other publication. Single issues are available by mail for $10 postage paid in the USA. Subscriptions are $20 for 4 issues in the USA. Order through our website or send a check to Eastwind Studios, P. O. Box 750, San Bernardino, California 92402, USA. For ad inquiries please contact or call (909) 867-5605. Please support our advertisers who made this publication possible. Phil Yeh~Publisher Linda Adams Yeh~Co-Publisher & Editor Linda Puetz, Art Director Tom Luth & Lieve Jerger~Assistant Art Directors Frank Mangione-Vice-President Woodrow Tom Thompson~Senior Editor Peggy Corum,Veronica Lopez, Debra Bemben, Leah Fallon, Sandy Cvar, Barbara Corum~Copy Editors Edmond Gauthier~Archivist Lim Cheng Tju~Asian Bureau Chief Sarah Carvaines, MPH, RD~ Health Editor PJ Grimes~Music & Health Editor Jerome Poynton~Letters Editor

Quarterly, Volume 38, #100, Winter 2011 This issue is a milestone for us in so many ways. When we started this publication on November 5, 1973, I was a 19 year old college student at Cal State University Long Beach. We came out more or less monthly. There was a two year period when we changed our name to Cobblestone (1975-77) and included Uncle Jam as an insert devoted to science fiction, fantasy and comics. We published Uncle Jam until 1990, when our Cartoonists across America & the World tour began to take up more and more of my time. We are still on the road, but supposedly not at the pace we used to be. In a few days Linda and I will fly to Israel, where I am the guest of honor at the 2nd annual Haifa Comics Festival. A wonderful Israeli cartoonist named Lee Blum, whom I met at the Frankfurt Book Fair when I was a guest there in 2009, arranged our trip and for this we thank him. Lee wanted me as guest for their first convention last September but we were already booked for a bus painting event for the 25th anniversary of Literacy Volunteers of Santa Fe, so I guess we are still on the road a lot! Speaking of anniversaries and milestones, this issue is only a month off our 38th birthday, and is the long awaited 100th issue! To celebrate this special event, we asked our old friend José Quintero to design a special cover. We are rerunning an interview with Quintero, one of Mexico’s best artists, that originally ran in my Winged Tiger comic book series a few years ago. We are also rerunning the classic last interview from the 1980s with noted Science Fiction Master Philip K. Dick conducted by continued on page 39

CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS & WRITERS Todd S. Jenkins, Stella Donna,Gregg Rickman, Lim Cheng Tju, Ken L. Jones, Terri Elders, Matt Lorentz, John Weeks, Rory Murray, Roberta Gregory, Miel, Jerome Poynton, David Sands, Greg Escalante, Nick Cataldo, He Shuxin, Herlinde Spahr, Phil Ortiz, Mike Wolf, Jon J. Murakami, Linda White, MB Roberts,

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Lim Cheng Tju, Lieve Jerger, Tom Luth, David Sands, Linda Adams, Melina Heide, Bruce Guthrie, David Folkman

Dave Thorne, with his fellow Hawaiian cartoonists, in September 2011. In November, Thorne was hospitalized for heart trouble and is now on the mend. Thorne was interviewed in Uncle Jam 99 and, aside from cartooning, he is considered to be the “Yoda of Hawaiian Cartoonists”; having taught many of the island residents for over 40 years, and inspiring artists worldwide with his positive energy and his Aloha Spirit.

available online at


Cover art by José Quintero copyright 2011 José Quintero


Jerry Robinson (left) shown here in Mexico City at the Conque Comic-Con, in the 1990s, with Phil Yeh, Joe Jusko and Sergio Aragones. Robinson, credited with creating The Joker while still a teen, was also a champion of artist’s rights. He is also credited with creating Robin, Batman’s sidekick. Robinson was a champion of artist’s rights most notably in the case of Superman’s creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. I was the first journalist to break the story of what had happened to these men in 1975. After we published the interview with Siegel in Uncle Jam, it quickly gained the attention of the world; leading Robinson and fellow artist Neal Adams to work out a deal with Superman’s publishers. I told this story to Robinson in Mexico City and we became friends. When he left comic books, he had a very successful career in newspaper comics. Robinson passed away on December 7, 2011. He was 89.

Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011


Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011

An Introduction to Jose Quintero

Uncle Jam: When did you start to draw and how did you develop Buba? José Quintero: My hobby for drawing goes back to my early years when doodling on a piece of paper was a complementary part of the games I used to play with other children my own age. Since I was about 4 or 5 years old, I believed that somehow I would continue drawing even as a grown up, so I experienced this as something quite natural. I started drawing the Buba comic at age 17, inspired by my younger sister Ceci. Since then and until now, Buba has been published in newspapers, magazines, dossiers, fanzines, and in its own book Buba, Volume 1 in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries.

Uncle Jam: Cuando comenzaste a dibujar, y como surgió Buba? José Quintero: Mi afición por el dibujo se remonta hasta mis primeros años de vida, en los que pintarrajear sobre una hoja de papel era una forma de juego complementario a los juegos con otros niños de mi edad. Desde los cuatro o cinco años intuía que-alguna manera-seguiría dibujando aún en la edad adulta, así que siempre lo tomé como algo muy natural. Empecé a dibujar las historietas de Buba a los 17 años, inspirándome in Ceci, mi hermana menor. Desde entonces a esta fecha Buba ha aparecido publicada en diarios, revistas, suplementos, fanzines y un libro (Buba volume 1) en México y algunos países de habla hispana.

UJ: Who influenced your style? JQ: Although I would draw Wrestling Fighters and Superheroes when I was a kid, it was in my teens when I began to define my style. My influences have changed with time. When I was a child, I loved everything by Jack Kirby. In my youth, I was influenced by the works of Will Eisner, Moebius, and Robert Crumb. In fact, I baptized my comics as Buba Comix in honor of the underground movement in the 60’s. Afterwards, I was interested in the graphic work of the Mexican engraving artist Jose Guadalupe Posada. More recently I’ve followed the works of Mike Mignola, Dan Clowes, Peter Bagge, and Tsutomu Nihei.

UJ: Quienes han influencado tu estilo? JQ: Aunque de niño me la pasaba dibujando luchadores y después superheroes, fue en la adolescencia donde commence a definer mi estilo. Mis influencias han cambiando con el paso del tiempo, cuando era niño me encantaba todo lo de Jack Kirby, en la juventud me influenció mucho el trabajo de Will Eisner, Moebius y Robert Crumb (bauticé a mis cartones “Buba Cómix” en honor al movimiento Underground de la década de los sesenta). Depués me interesó la gráfica del grabador mexicano José Guadalupe Posada y más recientemente el trabajo de Mike Mignola, Dan Clowes, Peter Bagge y Tsutomu Nihei.

UJ: What do you recommend for a young artist (continued on page 22)


Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011

UJ: Qué le recomendas a un joven atista para (continuado en la página 22)


Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011

Sonny Liew Wants To Be A Robot! INTERVIEW WITH SONNY LIEW BY Cheng Tju Lim

Award given out by the Singapore Government? Sonny Liew: Well...there’s the Award money sitting around somewhere, but I haven’t really had a chance to think of a project to use it on. Generally I guess it has raised my profile locally a bit, which means more invites to take part in various art projects. It was mostly nice to have my parents and granddad come along for the ceremony and meet the then-president of Singapore Mr. S.R. Nathan, see the Istana (the official residence of the President). They’ve been supportive of my career choices; it’s just one small way of giving back I guess. UJ: You contributed to Secret Identities, which celebrated Asian-American Superheroes. Do you consider yourself an American artist (since the bulk of your work is published in USA), a Singaporean artist, or a Malaysian artist? SL: I usually say I’m a Malaysian-born artist based in Singapore, which is a factual statement. On an emotional level I’ve always felt a bit inbetween, a Causeway Kid. My parents and my father’s side of the family live in Malaysia, but I don’t speak much Malay beyond soccer terms like pass or shoot the ball. I spent most of my time here but I never did National Service... Not American though, that would be a strange stretch.  Even if you think of it in terms of stories, there’s Frankie and Poo, Chang & Eng. Maybe using an English first name has something to do with people sometimes assuming I’m an American-based creator. In these days of the Internet, FedEx, and relatively cheap jet travel, it’s maybe become less important where you come from - everybody has access to comics from the world over, so your influences are going to be myriad. continued on page 17

Sonny Liew is a Malaysian-born comic artist/illustrator based in Singapore. He is best known for his work on Vertigo Comics’ My Faith in Frankie together with Mike Carey and Marc Hempel, and Marvel Comics’ “Sense and Sensibility” adaptation. Born in Seremban, Malaysia, Liew attended school at Victoria School and Victoria Junior College in Singapore. He went on to read philosophy at Clare College in Cambridge University in UK and studied illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2001. His first foray into comic illustration was with Singaporean tabloid paper The New Paper in 1995, contributing a comic strip titled Frankie and Poo. A compilation of the strips was published by Times Publishing in 1996. Shortly after his graduation from Rhode Island Liew met The Uncanny X-Men writer Chris Claremont who was impressed by his portfolio of work. Claremont not only showed him around the convention, he also gave Liew his first break into the comics industry, by letting him illustrate Iron Man for Marvel’s Marvel Universe Millennial Visions title. His work has appeared in the Flight Anthologies edited by Kazu Kibuishi, and he has served as editor of the Southeast Asian comics anthology Liquid City Volumes 1 and 2 from Image Comics. He was nominated for an Eisner award in the penciling/inking category for his work on Slave Labor Graphics and Disney’s Wonderland, written by Tommy Kovac. He is also the creator of Malinky Robot, a Xeric Award recipient and winner of the “Prix de la Meilleure BD” (Comic Album of the Year) at the Utopiales International SF Festival in Nantes. He was a recipient of Singapore’s Young Artist Award in 2010. Uncle Jam: How has life changed for you since winning the Young Artists


Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011


Theresa Van Ornum A couple of years back I was hospitalized for quite a time with a semi-serious illness. My time in the hospital was very sterile and I seemed to make little progress. After I was transferred to a care facility things improved. The building itself was alive with artwork and everyone there was encouraged to create their own artwork, write poetry and short stories, and if they knew how, to do it make music for everyone who was there. I was amazed at how this approach improved my health and general attitude about life. When Uncle Jam told me that they knew of a healer who was also an accomplished artist I became intrigued. I was not disappointed when I was able to interview Theresa Von Ornum. Hers is a most unique and well reasoned approach and I think you will find her as thought provoking as I did. Ken L. Jones Uncle Jam: Tell us a little bit about your life and times. Theresa Van Ornum: I’m originally from Upstate New York, up on the St. Lawrence River. I’m a middle child of 6 and had the good fortune of living in a rural area-lots of time in nature. My mother was a nurse for over 40 years, so women taking care of others seemed to be the way of things. She was a hard-working humanitarian. My father worked in the auto industry and was a very fine woodworker as a hobby. He dreamed of retiring someday and being able to do his creative work full time but he never made it. He died of cancer at age 60. I learned to not put off creativity and what you love for the “someday” that may never come. We moved to New Mexico in my early teens. My mother was a severe asthmatic and required a change of climate. I’m certain that spending those important formative years steeped in the rich artistic and diverse cultural mix of New Mexico had a huge influence on my creative work, even now.

Although I live and work in Redlands California now, I travel back to Albuquerque and Santa Fe several times a year to recharge my Creative Spirit. I moved to California in my mid-twenties. I developed an interest in health practices like yoga and nutrition, but did not pursue medicine until my father’s death. It was then that I realized there was a need for people to be educated about how to live in a healthy manner: that disease was something to be prevented, not treated after the fact. I decided that I wanted to go to medical school and began my premed studies knowing that I would be the kind of doctor that would help patients realize the full range of options that were available for health and well being. My father’s only choices had been continued on page 19

Theresa Van Ornum Printmaker / Photographer / Mixed Media Artist Redlands, California and Albuquerque, New Mexico “Consciousness Through Creative Process”


Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011


Steampunk, 'Psy-Fi', and the Mechanics of Fantasy By Todd S. Jenkins

Author Tim Powers is one of the most unique voices in American writing, characters, just all kinds of great things that you therefore don’t have to deftly weaving disparate elements of fantasy, science and historical fiction make up. So I thought, ‘Well, let’s do this again.’ into tales of suspense, tension and dark humor. One of the originators of “Another book I had written for the King Arthur series, I busted up and “Steampunk” – a term created to describe it became The Anubis Gates (1983, winner the early Industrial Revolution-fantasy of the Philip K. Dick Award). Again, I used works of Powers, K.W. Jeter and James all the cool stuff that historical research Blaylock – he has evolved into a highly could provide, and I’ve been doing it ever distinctive writer and gradually built a since. Even in the more contemporary solid following since his emergence in books like Last Call (1992), which took the 1970s. The recent success of Disney’s place in the here-and-now, I still thought, fourth “Pirates of the Caribbean” film, ‘Well, where does it take place? Las Vegas? built loosely around some elements of I’ll research Las Vegas’ history. It works so Powers’ 1988 novel On Stranger Tides, has well with historical books, I’ll try it with catapulted the author further into the public a contemporary story.’ And Vegas’ history spotlight. turned out to be full of clues and neat stuff, Unlike many of his contemporaries the directions for a plot. who while away their hours in cramped “Generally, whatever I do, I’ll apartments on big-city blocks, Powers read up on the history of the place and the and his wife, Serena, are content with life biographies of the people involved. I’m on their little horse property in the dusty looking for that kind of clue, that little thing suburb of Muscoy, California. It’s one of that’s too cool not to use. It depends on how Serena and Tim Powers with Johnny Depp many aspects of Powers’ life that might much research you’re willing to do, but I come as a surprise to his fans. always find ten or twenty such things. Then, “The virtue of Muscoy, when we moved in the 1990s, was that it was really when you’ve found those, the challenge is just to connect the dots. I’ve cheap. It probably is again, now. We were living in Orange County, and when found it to be a real substitute for innate imagination!” the landlady decided to take our apartment for herself, we discovered that As mentioned, Powers loves to recycle places, people and things in his there was just nothing in Orange County that we could consistently afford. fiction. Lord Byron, the mythical Fisher King and a deck of tarot cards all I’m glad that we did move up here. Now I just want to die of old age here; I figure into more than one of Powers’ tales. He says, “They’re all the kinds of never want to move again… I like all the typical Muscoy stuff. Everybody’s things I guess I didn’t use up along the way. Espionage, too; it figured into got a whole acre; you can’t really see much of anyone’s yard. If you have a Three Days to Never (2006) and there’s still more that you can do with that.” non-working vehicle in your yard no one cares. Things like that.” Powers’ upcoming 2012 novel, Hide Me Among the Graves, reflects his Few of Powers’ works have taken place in that kind of bucolic setting; interest in the Romantic poets and how they might have lived in an alternate only Earthquake Weather (1997) approaches a desert scenario that isn’t set universe. “It largely involves Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his sister Christina; in the long-distant past. He prefers to dabble in urban or distant, bygone of course, she wrote that great poem, “Goblin Market”. I had been reading settings, usually with a keen eye to deep historical accuracy. Powers loves to for entertainment about Dante Gabriel, and I learned that when his wife run continual threads through his stories, recalling an element or two from committed suicide, in his grief and guilt he laid his whole poetry manuscript past works in his current material to give a sense of universality and fabric to notebook in the coffin with her and she was buried with it. Then, some years his fiction. later, a publisher told him, ‘If you had a collection of poetry we could publish A Powers hallmark is his intense historical research, which often recalls a book.’ So he said, ‘Well, give me a couple of days.’ And he dug her up and the accuracy and detail of George MacDonald Fraser. The key difference is retrieved his poems! My idea for the story was, what did he really dig her up that, having crafted a sturdy, historically plausible background, Powers will for? The poems were the excuse. He either wanted to get something else, or then up the ante a thousand percent by introducing elements of the occult and he wanted to put something else in. parapsychology into his tales. He says, “Fraser didn’t add the supernatural to “I started reading widely about them, their associates, and London of his fiction. Still, I’d love to see what he would do with it if he did! I love the the time (roughly 1862 to 1880). It turns out that the Rossettis’ uncle, their Flashman books, especially Flashman and the Great Game (1975). I think mother’s brother, was John Polidori, who had figured in my book The Stress he crossed over into actual literature with that one.” of Her Regard (1989). He was Byron’s physician who wrote an early book Powers’ entry into the realm of historical fiction came as a sort of fluke. called The Vampyre (1819). The Rossettis also knew a guy named Edward “Back in about 1975 or ’76 Roger Elwood, who was running Laser Books at John Trelawny, who had also been a character in The Stress of Her Regard. the time, told me, Jeter, and Ray Nelson that he had a deal with Corgi Books Of course, he was very old when the Rossettis knew him. So Hide Me Among in England to give them ten books about King Arthur being reincarnated the Graves turned out to be a fairly successful, hopefully stand-alone sequel throughout history. He asked the three of us if we’d be interested in writing to Stress.” some of them. Jeter and I, at least, were young and inexperienced, so we said Another trademark of Powers’ fictional style is the heavy use of internal ‘Sure!’ The project eventually fell apart, and I think all ten books would have dialogue and psychological drama, which doesn’t always translate well had one pseudonym for the author. But before it fell apart each of us wrote to film when the chance arises. Many of Powers’ fans wondered how the a couple of books. I wrote one set in 1529 in Vienna, about the big siege supernatural pirate drama On Stranger Tides could be transformed to suit when the Turks were attacking Europe. Of course, I had to do research for the world of Captain Jack Sparrow, but Powers wasn’t all that concerned. “I it, and I discovered that research provides you with all kinds of free, ready- figure it’s the job of the screenwriter to take a book and simply use it as raw made good stuff: cuisine, currency, customs, wonderful locales, colorful material, take out the bits that look good and glue them together with new


Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011

glue. If I was a screenwriter looking at Three Days to Never, I would take, say, four things from the book; scrap the rest and build a film around these four items. “I never figure a movie has much duty to resemble the book it’s based on. That just seems so unrealistic to me. Of course it’s different! Of course it has a different theme. It’s a movie! I can only think of a couple of movies that really reflect the books they were based on. Maybe “Silence of the Lambs” and “To Kill a Mockingbird”. If somebody were to tell me, ‘Powers, I want to make a movie out of one of your books, and it’s going to be an animated musical with singing chipmunks,’ I’d say, ‘Cool! Fine, tear it up.’ “In the case of On Stranger Tides, it was obvious that they couldn’t follow my book too much. They had already established the Jack Sparrow character, Barbosa and so forth; so by definition they couldn’t use very much of my book. But I was very pleased that they used the title and my name in the credits. If people want to buy my book thinking it’s reflective of the movie, that’s fine by me. By the time they find it’s not, they will have already paid for it! If I was to hear that someone was to make a movie from a favorite book of mine, I might decide to rent it one day, but I really wouldn’t expect to see the book in a different form now. I would expect to see a movie that would have some similarities.” Early in Powers’ literary life he came into contact with one of America’s most unique and influential science fiction writers, Philip K. Dick. The two became associates while Powers was still in college at Cal State Fullerton, and remained in contact for a decade until Dick’s death in 1982. Powers recalls, “I met him in 1972 when he flew down to Orange County from Canada. That was toward the end of a very tumultuous, dangerous period of his life. He had abandoned his house in San Rafael in 1971 because his wife had left him; and he opened his house to anyone who wanted to live there. Those proved to largely be under-aged runaways who stole all his stuff and did drugs at his house. The police were anxious for him to go away. He was the guest of honor at a convention in Vancouver, and when the convention was over he asked if he could stay: ‘I’ve got nowhere to go. Can you put me up?’ That must have been disconcerting to the Con committee. Eventually he attempted suicide up there, then checked into a heroin rehab place – not that he was a heroin addict, but he wanted close monitoring. Then he wrote to a college professor at Fullerton and said he had nowhere to go. The professor read the letter to his class, and a couple of girls in the class said, ‘Hey, we just lost a roommate.’ Phil was so desperate and at rope’s end that he agreed to it. So he flew down. I knew the girls, and they asked if I wanted to go pick up Phil Dick at the airport. I knew the name but hadn’t really read him at that point. I thought, ‘Yeah, famous science fiction writer? I’ll go along.’ “He only stayed with them for a few months because they only had a couch for him to sleep on, and they expected him to buy all the groceries. He eventually moved out with another guy roommate so he had his own room. I really got to know him from then, which was early 1972, until his death. I knew him all through his last marriage, the beginning and the end of it, and when he was living in Santa Ana where K.W. Jeter and I were also living, and Jim Blaylock wasn’t far away.” Powers and several friends were the thinly veiled bases for characters in Dick’s 1981 spiritual-technological opus VALIS. Powers says, “The book is pretty autobiographical and accurate. I was, like many college students of the day, keeping a journal. When I look through the journal and look through VALIS I see a lot of accuracy. He must have been keeping a journal himself; if Phil says it was raining on a particular day, I can pick up my journal and see that yes, it really did rain on that day.” In VALIS Powers becomes David, the protagonist’s Roman Catholic friend who works in a tobacco shop. “Most of the discussions they have in the book, we really did have. At one point, when the Redeemer is born again as a little girl, he says something like, ‘David sort of zoned out and became


Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011

catatonic. The Church had taught him how to do this, how to dissociate himself when confronted with evidence that ran against orthodoxy.’ After I read that I went to Phil and said, ‘Phil, what the heck is that? I never do that!’ And he just kind of giggled. Then, at one point one of the characters says to David, ‘Will you please not tell us what C.S. Lewis would say about this? Just do us that one favor.’ But I didn’t quote Lewis all that much. But Jeter did have a cat that got run over by a car, and he did consider it evidence against the existence of God…” Powers still holds Dick in high esteem and likes to dispel the long-standing rumors about his old friend. “Altogether, as I think you can conclude from what he wrote in that time, he was humorous, skeptical; not crazy. The caricature is that he was this drug-addled madman who couldn’t leave his shabby apartment because that’s where God talked to him. In fact, no, he was in sound contact with all the people associated with Ridley Scott and the “Blade Runner” film (based upon Dick’s famous tale Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) He moved a lot, he was going out with girls, meeting lots of people, and going to movies. He wasn’t the sort of crazy hermit the caricature gives you.” The 1970s was an incredibly inspirational era for Powers and his friends. “It was a very lively period. Every Thursday my wife and I hosted a gathering of miscellaneous friends in our apartment in Santa Ana. I would come home about 9:00 from the tobacco shop and bring a bunch of cigars. Other people would bring Scotch and beer, and we’d just chat until about midnight when I’d throw everybody out. Phil never drank any alcohol because he had three blocks to drive, so he’d drink Orange Crush all night.” While Dick was a definite inspiration, the young writers didn’t really approach him as a mentor figure. Powers remembers “Jeter, Blaylock and I were all frantically trying to get stuff published, and we seldom asked Phil directly for advice or showed him what we’d written. But we’d say, ‘Oh, Ballantine rejected my book. I don’t know where to send it next,’ and Phil would say, ‘It’s just as well. There are too many books in the world already.’ Actually, he was very supportive. He’d loan money at the drop of a hat. We used to say you could call him up and say, ‘Phil, I’ve been evicted. I need $400 and someone to help me move my couch.’ And Phil would say, ‘All right, I’ll be right over. Who is this?’ He was actually very generous and kind.” Dick might have inspired some of Powers’ fascination with time travel, which he has regularly explored in different dimensions within his books. An especially unusual device in Three Days to Never manages to tie both Charlie Chaplin and Albert Einstein into the process and mechanics of time travel. Powers says, “It was all sort of indicated by the research. Grauman’s Chinese Theatre really has apparently lost the Chaplin footprint slab. He did it the same day that Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks did their prints, but somehow they have misplaced Chaplin’s. So I thought, ‘Cool! I’ll take it!’ I kind of write fantasy by misunderstanding physics, so I’ll refer to some physics effect or principle, but since I don’t really understand it, having been an English Lit major, I just sort of torque it into the mechanics of fantasy. “The difference between The Anubis Gates and Three Days to Never in terms of time travel was that, in the first book, you can travel back in time and do whatever you want, but it will still turn out to have been what happened in the history of whatever world you left. You’re not going to be able to change history. But in Three Days I said you could go to the past and essentially change it, so that if you returned to your original present you would find it altered. I deliberately wanted to do one book one way and the other book the other way.” The psychological impact of time travel and parapsychological phenomena also plays a recurring role in Powers’ fiction although, as with physics, his imagination is more of a catalyst than any formal study. “I sort of bluff that. I can bluff it plausibly, but I haven’t really studied psychology and continued on page 15

Excerpts from Weirdo Magazine by Robert Crumb ©2011 Robert Crumb

Philip K. Dick’s Last Interview by Gregg Rickman

Gregg Rickman’s first interview with the late science fiction master Philip K. Dick ran in the July 1981 issue of Uncle Jam. We ran this second interview with PKD in Uncle Jam 57, May 1982, just before the opening of Blade Runner based on Phil’s book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Phil passed away just two weeks after this interview was taped and never lived to see Ridley Scott’s film. Our company at that time was called Fragments West/The Valentine Press and we agreed to publish a series of books based on Rickman’s interviews and his extensive research. The books have long since been out of print, but we have found a few copies that we have put up on our website Rickman asked Roger Zelazny to write the foreword to the first book in the series, Philip K. Dick: In His Own Words which was published in 1984. PKD in a letter to Rickman said, “One day I’ll be gone and you’ll be there writing away and how I’m remembered and thought of will (I am convinced) depend to a great deal on how you specifically see me.” For Rickman’s second book, Philip K. Dick: The Last Testament, he got Robert Silverberg to pen the foreword and for his third book (the first part of his biography) To The High Castle Philip K. Dick: A Life 1928-1962 he asked Phil’s friend Tim Powers to write the foreword. We have an interview with Tim Powers in this issue of Uncle Jam talking about his own career and his friendship with PKD. Philip K. Dick never knew how much his writing would be celebrated long after his passing. As we entered the 21st century, some critics were saying he was the best writer of the 20th century. Not just for science fiction but ALL WRITING, period! The well known cartoonist Robert Crumb wrote to us asking for permission to use some of Rickman’s 2nd book, Philip K. Dick: The Last Testament for his illustrated 8 page comic in Weirdo magazine


Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011

(page 1 and 8 reproduced here). Hollywood continues to make films based on his work (The Adjustment Bureau, Next, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report to name a few). These films are based on his novels for which he got paid very little and have grossed over a billion dollars. Here then for this 100th issue of Uncle Jam is Philip K. Dick’s Last Interview by Gregg Rickman. The late Phil Dick was a friend of mine, a friend I first made through his works and then in life. Author of forty books, best known for his science fiction universes of love, pain and paradox, Phil was also a reader and thinker of more than common perception, and a human being deeply concerned with the fate of his planet. It was the empathy he felt for the sufferings of the world that killed him, finally. He was a martyr to his love. I spent eight hours with Phil last February 17th; (1982) on the 18th he suffered a stroke. He died, painlessly, two weeks later. In the months I had known Phil, I had seen him dwindle in strength but not of will --- though at our last interview he had made an apparent physical recovery from his exhaustion of November and December (1981). He had spent most of the day elaborating his fears and hopes for the future --- not his own career, which was thriving as never before, but the world’s: “It is the convulsions of (our) dying institutions that are plunging the world into war and famine and in their death throes they will pull the world down with them.” His final hope was an elaborate fantasy of Christ’s imminent return, where he propounded quite seriously for two hours, and then turned around and argued against just as vehemently. (This was Phil’s normal creative method, the sincere advocacy of several conflicting realities). In the last two months of his life, he had become very interested in a small British-

based group which put out pamphlets supposedly dictated by “Maitraya the Christ” inveighing against the disease and famine we watch comfortably on television: “This crime fills me with shame.” The group believes that “the Maitraya” is on earth and will soon make Himself known, taking over from our incompetent rulers. Said Phil, in his advocate mood: “Why single me out to speak to? For a very interesting reason. No one will believe me. It is absolutely vital that two things be accomplished at the same time that appear to be contradictory. That as many people as possible be told Maitraya the Christ has returned, but that they be told by someone that has no authority whatsoever. In no way can he back up, prove or verify his claims.” Phil saw the Maitraya as a realization of his lifelong struggle for hope against hope; that children will be fed, that the sick will be cared for. In his own way, he had done what he could, donating much of his earnings to charities and (as I heard from his ex-wife Tessa after his death) sponsoring two poor children’s education and livelihood, one in Mexico and one in Appalachia. Phil’s last days on earth were consumed with desire “to render aid to those in need.” And he had a fantasy about one of our rulers meeting with justice: “Most of all, I relish the thought of Ronald Reagan sitting down to sign some ghastly, giant arms budget. As our Glorious Leader sits down to sign some bill adding even more ghastly dinosaurs to our arsenal of evil and defunct weapons, all of a sudden a voice says, ‘Hi! This is Yahweh and your ass is grass.” That’s my fantasy number. “And Reagan all of a sudden realizes that instead of signing this bill ‘Ronald Reagan’ he has signed ‘Daisy Duck.’ And after that, he talks like Daisy Duck. My fantasy number is that when the Fuhrer goes on television to alert us to the dangers of the Maitraya, all we hear is Daisy Duck. ‘Cause that’s who’s really running this country now anyway, a looned out version of Daisy Duck. It’s a rabid duck who runs this country. And the Maitraya is going to come out on all frequencies and say ‘Hi, Daisy. Your quacking days are over.’” Phil was fully aware how much his “eager desire to see the entire world military establishment chopped up into dog kibble” could be seen as taking off into dreamland. But then, fantasy had always been his province as a writer: dreams, nightmares, terrors and wish fulfillment. In a way, he told me, he was forced into writing science fiction back in the 1950s, as no one would publish his straight, literary novels and a decade before Tolkien’s mass audience success there was no market for literary fantasy. (He did publish one fantasy, the excellent and long out of print The Cosmic Puppets in 1957.

One of his literary novels, Confessions of a Crap Artist, was published in his lifetime; his last book, coming out this June, is a novel based on his friendship with the late Bishop James Pike, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer. Last October, I asked Phil why he wrote science fiction. “Because it gives me a chance to be crazy and get paid for it. I can write real weird stuff about real weird people doing real weird things, where people walk through walls and stuff. Like Christ did at the end of the Gospels. And give some pseudo-scientific explanation for it, like they’re all dead. You can’t do that in a mainstream novel. I can play with the universe like it’s silly putty. That perfectly sums it up. I love to play games with time-space causality. It’s my old interest in epistemology. “For one thing, I don’t really believe that the universe is real, I don’t believe we’re really sitting here. I think we’re brains yoked in tandem and we’re being fed sensory-sight stimulations directly to the brain. They’re writing down how we respond to various problems that arise.” “Who are they?” I asked. “Well, I guess they’re gods. They’re good, they’re benign. If they weren’t benign, they would have executed us a long time ago, as (Abraham) Maslow says. But we’re being tested. And we’re being tested in small matters. It’s not the big decisions that we’re being tested on, because there we know it. We sense moral elements. It’s situations that are so small that we don’t even sense there’s a moral element involved, which is the real test. I really believe this firmly. I’m convinced of it.” He was, which he wasn’t convinced about the “sensory-light stimulation” notion, an example of the typical Philip K. Dick plot ideas he’d toss off in conversations (a variant of which he used in Ubik). At this point, he went on to tell of someone he’d once known who’d driven an unwanted cat miles away from home and who, when the cat turned up home a week later “with the pads worn off its feet” from walking--- “I said, ‘where is the cat now?’ ‘Oh, we had it killed,’ she said. The fact that she’d done something terrible didn’t even occur to her.” “I feel we’re being tested now, all of us. Where we don’t see any moral element is where the test comes. That’s what we are going to find scored. They’re going to shoot replays of those scenes on the screen. What I’m really saying is that all life is a moral issue, which is a very Jewish idea. The Hebrew idea about God is that God is found in morality, not in epistemology. continued on page 14

“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep: The Graphic Novel” review by Todd S. Jenkins

As beloved as “Blade Runner” has become in the science fiction community since its release in 1982, purists have long complained that Ridley Scott’s film was but a weak reflection of its original source material: Philip K. Dick’s 1968 magnum opus Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Die-hard fans of Dick’s fiction pointed out that too much of the story’s meat and substance was hacked away in order to provide context for the wild, disturbing, relentless imagery of the film. Others embraced it, acknowledging that at least someone in Hollywood had recognized Dick’s genius and made an attempt to reflect his visionary style of fiction onscreen. Now, both Dick’s fan base and those who value visual elements in contemporary fiction have cause to rejoice. Comic book artist Tony Parker, a resident of Phoenix with a gift for gripping sci-fi and fantasy realizations, has crafted a brilliant graphic-novel interpretation of Electric Sheep that is fully faithful to Dick’s original text but offers boldly original visual interpretations of the scenes. First released as


Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011

a set of twenty-four comic-book issues, the whole project has now been published by Boom! Comics as a sixvolume set of quality graphic novels. Parker’s attention to detail and creative eye have resulted in a phenomenal reflection of Dick’s dystopic vision, mirroring all the violence, the tension, the expansive scope of the story and its setting. The way he balances the humanness and mechanicality of the androids is nothing short of brilliant, and his interpretation of characters like Rick Deckard and Buster Friendly is revelatory; drawing us deep into their personalities (or, in Friendly’s case, the lack thereof). The artwork is unfailingly modern and unsentimental, a perfect style to match the spirit and tone of the book. Each volume of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? includes an insightful essay specially written by one of Dick’s associates, including Tim Powers, Gabriel McKee and James Blaylock. As the authors offer their own reminiscences of Dick and interpretations of the story and its history, the universe of PKD becomes a little more palpable to the reader. This series is a must-have for fans of Dick’s work, and for science fiction enthusiasts everywhere. f



S t r u g g l e s o f a 2 1st C e n t u r y A r t i s t by Stella Donna

The lower middle class is full of artists. We are rappers selling mix tapes to buy California burritos and weed. We are writers and poets, buying refills of coffee and lingering in cafes for hours. We are graphic designers and painters. We are also students, parents, and blue-collared workers — although many of us don’t have typical jobs; so we wander around San Diego on busses and trolleys looking for cheap, and better yet, free thrills. We are the reason thrift store shopping is cool. We are the new lost generation, barely a step above the transients. On any given night, there are between 4 and 6 people sleeping on the couches, beds and air mattress in my apartment. These are artists passing through; poor, but making the most of nearly nothing. As an only child, I had a hard time adjusting to the constant barrage of people. But as an artist, I enjoy the gregariousness of lonerdom. When I’m overwhelmed with people, I retreat to my bedroom and eavesdrop on my neighbors, sometimes drawing inspiration. Either that or I’ll grab my headphones and walk for hours, sometimes acknowledging society, sometimes carefully ignoring it. As I strut up and down hills, along the beaches, and through parks and parking lots, I mostly fantasize about traveling the world, making music and finding the brilliant minds of our generation. It’s actually an obsession, which can be a healthy thing when channeled properly. At least I hope so. I prefer not to think of the consequences for my actions just yet. I also think about my band, and what we’re working with. The formula is simple, very different from the electro-organic sound of my upcoming EP, “The Raven.” It’s bass, electric guitar and drums; maybe a keyboardist in the near future. We’re currently working on material for our first album. My idea is to create a primitive raw sound, with underlying sophistication; so that you can’t help but pay attention to the blues and soul that sway with my split ends. Swagger is what it is. Some songs are tales and bits of personal experiences. Others are fictional stories, blending what I’ve observed with what I made up. “Mama Wants Revenge,” the first song the band recorded together, is exactly about what the title alludes to. I don’t have any kids, but nothing’s better than a good ol’ tale of revenge, so I had to write it. Plus, it’s fun as hell to play. Back to the band: JT plays guitar. He’s an animé junkie with whom I used to scour open mic nights. I met Andy, the bassist, through a mutual friend. He’s always smiling. Wes AKA “Mon” plays the drums. We met him recently through Craigslist. He said he once saw JT and I perform at Rebecca’s, a coffee shop in South Park, and was all about it. What’s cool is that we’re all so different, but ended up spending hours together in a tiny room, making all kinds of ruckus. As for the EP, I’ve been working on that sucker for more than a year with some


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greasy cats I met here in San Diego at Classified Recording Studios, Pacific Beach. We must have recorded around fifty songs, whittling it down to seven tracks that define my obsessions for the past several years. The music is inspired by “ghetto-tivity”, like a child playing with makeshift toys, utilizing the full potential of them. It was also a learning process; an experiment with melodies, rhythms and ba-ba-babass. The hardest part of finishing the EP is finding a day where I love all the songs. For the most part, I’ve teetered back and forth between love and hate with each of them. Sometimes, I’m embarrassed that a certain song sounds too “poppy” or a melody is too repetitive. But there are a million things I can say to negatively dissect each of them. Sometimes, it’s like “did I make that?” I listen to the songs and get chills, because I decided to create art, and there it is. It’s probably like that for a lot of artists. We’re extremely confident, cocky even; but everyone at some point second guesses him/herself. It’s part of what helps us grow. Progression is dynamic. Who would want to be static? The question helps us decide whether or not we’re cut out to continue pursuing this incredibly uncertain field, or if we’ve got the guts to keep dusting our shoulders off. To be me in this generation is to dwell among those who don’t make a standard “living wage.” We are only comfortable because we don’t need much, and we aren’t jaded yet. We are a sub-category of the working class, except we lean towards work that isn’t immediately rewarding. We’ve been fortunate enough to know a community of artists who often help each other for free, but, getting paid would be great too. I’m not gonna lie. Many of us have bits of education here and there. Combined, we make a master’s degree. Separate, we’re a whole bunch of trade certifications. For most of us, it’s only a matter of time before our dreams shrivel up and we succumb to the reality of life. But for now, we create art, therefore we are. Let’s hold on to that for as long as we can. For the ones who make it, whatever that means, you’re my favorite kind of underdog. “The Raven” should be fully mixed and mastered by early 2012. You can find the songs on my Website,, where there are links for purchase. I also plan to release the EP on CD Baby, which is where you can order a hard copy. A tour is in loose discussion, and we hope to be on the road by next summer. Palabra For questions, email: Songs on “The Raven”: Freeze Frame, Nerd Party, Road Trippin’, Stella Donna, Simple Things, Time, The Art of Being Lonely f

Dick continued from page 12

That is where the Almighty exists, in the moral area. It just isn’t that the Hebrew monotheism ethics developed directly from God ---that’s not it. God and ethics are so interwoven, where you have one, you have the other.” “I will not be scored; you will not be scored, on being smart. We will not be scored on any thing that works towards our survival. Smart ultimately means doing the thing for survival. It’s going to be some moment that we don’t even remember.” Phil went on to tell of a time when he ran over, or thought he ran over, a cat on the way home from a supermarket. “I knew in a moment that I’d been judged. A judgment flag had gone down in heaven.” He held himself responsible for the presumed death of the cat; even though it was the cat that had run under his car and that he’d only had a split second to swerve into some parked cars to possibly avoid it. He went back “in shock” and searched for it. “All I could do was somehow erase a number of the bad karmic points I had acquired.” It was very characteristic of Phil to take blame and troubles on himself that way; he had a real identification with the suffering Christ on the cross, a painting of which he kept on his wall. (He also had a great love for cats, which could be seen in the great weight of his two cats and the care he took brushing them.) It was this assumption of anguish that burned him out, even while he was able to use his extraordinary mind ---his wit, his depth of knowledge and penetrating intelligence---to light fires to hold back the darkness. The above transcription of Phil’s conversation also gives some idea of the way Phil turned every topic to his consuming interests in religion and philosophy. Phil said he had no religious training as a child at all, but did have an extraordinary experience when he was eight years old that qualifies as his first “vision”---the first of several key visions in his life. “I had a religious experience about a beetle I was tormenting once, when I was in the third grade, that I suffered as I do and felt as I do and wished to live as I do. Whereupon I ceased tormenting not just beetles, but all creatures.” Phil had felt complete empathy with the beetle that he was in its place. The theme of caritas, empathy, caring, became very important in Phil’s work, to the point where several of his most important books (like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, being released as the film Blade Runner this summer) are very largely concerned with this subject. One of his last short stories concerns a man on an inner-stellar voyage who kills the shipboard cat in a fit of pique and is condemned by the aliens he trades with to spend the next several light years, on the return voyage, wide awake with nothing but cat kibble to eat. One flavor. In our first interview, in April 1981, Phil talked about how he first became interested in philosophy. “I remember the incident. It’s a stupid one. But it shows you what life is built of---the Great Design hinges on these sorts of things. I was working at this radio repair shop during World War II…this right after the war in 1946 or 7. I was going to high school. One of the salesmen and I were in the truck. We were bringing back somebody’s giant radio-phonograph, which we had fixed. We were stopped at a stoplight. And this salesman turns to me; he says ‘See that light? What color is it?’ I says ‘red.’ He says, ‘Now I say it’s red, too but what you see that you call red may be something different from what I see and call red.’ I said, ‘But we both call it red.’ He says, ‘Yes, but you may see as green what I call red and vice versa.’ I thought, Jesus, he’s right. There’s no way you can prove it. “He said, ‘How would you prove we both see the same color?’ I said, ‘I have no idea.’ Most amazing idea I ever thought of. Fantastic. I was just in high school, too.” From such incidents are careers made. Phil spent his life questioning reality and searching for the elusive proof of cosmic justice and mercy. Given the pain that he saw (and, it must be said, sought out) his efforts to assert reality of a just and merciful God can stand as heroic. Even as it culminated in the phantasmagoria of the Maitraya’s imminent arrival, Phil kept the core of his sanity intact behind the armor of his love (generalized and specific) for mankind. Quite frankly rather worried about the depth of Phil’s commitment to


continued on page 31

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Powers continued from page 10

the paranormal much. The idea of meeting oneself at a different age, the idea that the two would be very different because of changes that the older one had undergone, I got from Robert Heinlein, specifically his short stories Bootstraps and All You Zombies, in which he just tied characters into pretzels with time travel. I think that was everybody’s inspiration; every time travel story after Heinlein had to acknowledge the odd possibilities he pointed out.” If Tim Powers could travel through time once, he says, “I think I would go to 1946; that is, right after World War II. I like the late 1940s and 50s. I’d buy up a bunch of Arkham House books, and I’d have a tremendous science fiction/fantasy collection. And I’d love the advantage of being able to just enjoy the period without worrying about the threat of atomic bombs and nuclear war the way they all were then. It would be comfortable enough. They had decent record players, although they didn’t have stereo yet. Dentistry was acceptable. It wouldn’t be too primitive. And you could smoke anywhere!” Multiple personality disorder, another deep treasure trove of plot interest and character development, took center stage in Powers’ Earthquake Weather. “That was fun! I really loved dealing with that Janice Cordelia Plumtree character. For that one I did read heaps of books on multiple personality disorder or whatever they call it now. That was such an intrinsically fascinating situation that I would probably use it again sometime. You can actually read about cases where this person gets falling-down drunk, with slurred speech and all, then a fresh personality emerges that’s sober. But you think, ‘What the hell? You’ve got the same bloodstream!’ It was full of wonderful effects for me to take and use for my own purposes.” “Pirates of the Caribbean” wasn’t Powers’ first chance at seeing one of his works made into film, though it was the first one to be fully realized and released. “A guy has been optioning Last Call for years, but they just jumped to a new stage of it. I’m optimistic. The guys in charge both seem to know what they’re doing. It’s a huge gamble. People say, ‘Wow, you’ve had a book optioned for the movies! When’s it going to come out?’ And you’re

like, ‘Whoa, slow down. Optioned doesn’t by any stretch mean a movie. But I’d like to see them score… Until the movie actually starts filming, which is when they actually purchase it, it’s best not to think about it. Spend the option money but don’t anticipate anything further. You’d go crazy if you tried to pin your hopes on those things.” Powers is still giving thought to his next project and offered some teasers. “The next one looks like it will be in the 20th century, possibly with some hooks in the 21st century. It might be based in the 1950s. I’m reading a bunch of things associated with that period and looking for the little bits to put a plot together. And right now it looks like it might involve time travel again. I don’t know why I keep coming back to that. There are so many interesting potential situations. You can have a guy confront his older or younger self and get in a disagreement; you could have a guy go back to the same event but be standing in a different place and get a different interpretation of it. Time travel lets you put characters through a bunch of different stresses that the mainstream just doesn’t have the mechanics for. You can make it sound scientific, make it sound magical; it’s a very wide open area.” One thing readers won’t find in Powers’ writings, at least not intentionally, is any timely sociopolitical references. He says, “I was just at WorldCon and mentioned that I never have ‘something to say’ in my fiction. I never consciously try to comment on any current political or social issues. I always find it very jarring when I’m reading a book about characters in a particular situation, then I realize, ‘Wait, this is a commentary on the Iraq war or Obama’s health care plan.’ If you want to write about these things, then write about them. But don’t give me a science fiction or fantasy story that’s covertly about these things. “If people ask me what something is ‘really about’, I just tell them it’s a supernatural adventure with no commentary beyond that. If you find something like that, then I would be interested in seeing it, but it won’t be something intentional. There are lessons, sure – honesty is nicer than dishonesty, things like that – but if I want to change the world in print, I write letters to the editor for that. It’s terrible to be timely; I’d rather be timeless.”f

Winged Tiger and Patrick Rabbit T-Shirts Drawn by Phil Yeh Hand silk-screened by SCULLIN IMAGES

Winged Tiger: Black ink on orange Patrick Rabbit Master of Origami: black and red ink on beige Available in men’s, women’s &children’s sizes

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Children’s medium ~large Women’s small~medium~ large Men’s medium~large~extra large T-shirts $20 each postage paid Send check or money order to Eastwind Studios • PO Box 750 • San Bernardino, California 92402 Or order online at 15

Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011

Maxwell Alexander Drake Uncle Jam profiles by Phil Yeh---

Uncle Jam: Your new series Farmers & Mercenaries-book one of the Genesis of Oblivion Saga- was a 2009 Moonbeam Young Adult Fantasy Award Winner for Excellence in Literature; and was also named Dragon Roots Magazine’s best new fantasy series in the same year. How important are these awards to a writer? Drake: Awards are a wonderful form of validation. It is an independent group of people reading a large selection of books from a specific genre, and then choosing what they feel are the best of the group. In the case of a larger award like the Moonbeam Awards, you have my book going up against a hundred or so other fantasy books. To have them say that my book is one of the best they have read helps me in several ways. Yes, it is a wonderful boost to my ego – there is no doubt about that; but more important to me, it helps my potential readers. I have noticed that readers no longer trust authors. And I get that. There are a bunch of books out on the market that probably should not be there. With as busy a world as we live in, nobody has time to waste reading a bad book. When you take the great fan reviews this series gets and the wonderful professional critique reviews, then add in a few national awards for good measure, it all helps to build the confidence of a potential new reader that reading my stuff will be enjoyable for them. They do not have to take my mother’s word that her son is a good writer. UJ: The second novel in this series, Mortals & Deities, was also highly reviewed. What feedback are you getting from readers, and do you consider their ideas as you write? Drake: Yes, the second book, Mortals & Deities, is doing really well. In fact, it just won a 2011 Moonbeam Young Adult Fantasy Award for Excellence in Literature. My favorite thing about Mortals & Deities is that it showcases how much I have learned and grown as an author since the release of Farmers & Mercenaries. Farmers & Mercenaries was good, and it has won several awards and received great reviews – but, it was my first major publication. I made some mistakes. Nothing major, but to me, nothing I want to repeat. It is amazing how much you learn about the craft of writing going through the nearly year-long process of editing a manuscript for professional release. The publisher has an AMAZING editing staff that taught me SO much while working on Farmers & Mercenaries. Mortals & Deities benefited from all that gained writing knowledge. With the release of book three, Dreams & Nightmares, I feel I have finally arrived. I am really proud of how much I have grown as a writer over these past five years. As to listening to the fans, I am amazed at the amount of fan mail and fan comments that I receive. I cannot tell you how many times I was blown away while reading a fan email where a fan told me they had figured me out, and they knew where the story was heading. I have received some amazingly great ideas – all of which have been wrong – but still, some amazing ideas. The problem with trying to figure out where this story is heading is that, until you get to the end of Mortals & Deities, the reader is missing one key element. The first two books are lies. Now, not lies as in “Let me tell you a story, then change everything without reason.” The first two books are 100% true to the best knowledge of the main characters. It is just that the main characters are clueless of how deep the rabbit hole actually goes. That is how I like to tell stories. I hate reading a book that opens with the villain ranting about their plans and what they are going to do to the world. Then switch to the heroes and the reader passively follows them to an end they have already seen, because the villain told them in the opening chapter. I like to tell a story where the readers know only what the characters know. When the main characters


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discover that everything they believed was wrong, the readers learn this at the same time. To me, that is great storytelling. In fact, the first time I ever write in the villain’s perspective is in the opening chapter of book three, Dreams & Nightmares. UJ: Genesis of Oblivion is a six novel series with, as we understand it, the third book coming out this December. How much time does it take you to create this whole saga? Drake: It is an ambitious project for a first-time author, and I am grateful to the publisher, Imagined Interprises, Inc., for taking the chance with me. When it is all said and done, with the six novels and at least a dozen short stories, this series will top out at over 1,000,000 words. And that is before I write the planned three-novel prequel that takes place 4,000 years before this series. All of that is a ton of work. I am lucky in the fact that this series has been successful enough for me to be a full-time writer. So, five days a week I can peck away at the future volumes and still have time to promote and do conventions on the weekends. Still, the process of creating a novel is longer than most people realize. When I first broke into this industry, I had both large and small publishers interested in this series. The large ones said, “We will sign you and have this to market in four to five years.” One of the main reasons I went with the small house of Imagined Interprises, Inc. is that they said they would get the book to market in about two years. Both of these seemed ridiculous to me. Two to five years to get a book that is fully written out to market! That seemed like crazy talk. Now I sing a different tune. Now I am like, “You think we can get this to market in just two years! Are you nuts?”There is a TON of stuff that must happen after the book is written. And, for those of my fans who have been following this series, they know the pain. Farmers & Mercenaries was released a few months continued on page 20

Liew continued from page 7 UJ: Are you a Singapore citizen yet? SL: Ha-ha not yet, but I’ve thought about it, especially after the last General Election in Singapore (May 2011). Just a feeling of wanting to be more involved. UJ: Who has helped you the most to break into the comics industry? SL: I would have to say David Mazzuchelli, who taught a class at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) when I was there. Growing up in Singapore it was never clear how you went about becoming involved in comics. No artists or studios to join as an apprentice, no comics publishers to send your work to, no conventions to show your portfolio at. Well there was Mr. Kiasu and the Comix Factory, but they never expanded beyond that one title. David was the first person I met who knew the ins and outs of things - both in the mainstream and alternative comics fields. The classes were theory laden - panels, structure, text-image interaction... but he was also full of practical advice. It was on his advice that I went to my first San Diego Comic-Con, and he put a good word in for me with Karen Berger at Vertigo as well.

needed new ideas all the time, so just about everything I read or saw seeped into the comics at some level. Academic philosophy is its own rarefied world though, and any comic derived from it would be very different from the kind that I do. The Malinky Robot comics, for example, are much more slice-oflife stories, and if anything from my Cambridge days did have an impact on them, it would probably have been more about the texture of experiences there. Maybe if I did Kramer’s Ergot style art comics it would be a different story, but that’s not quite happened yet. UJ: Is there a story which you would want to write but would like to get another artist to draw? Which artist? SL: Hmm never really thought about it. I’ve always seen myself on the art end of things at the very least. Just writing a script? That seems odd somehow. An evasive sort of answer would be Seth Fisher, just because that would mean that he was still with us and drawing his incredible comics....

UJ: Which comic’s company/writer/ character would you like to work on/with next? SL: Well my wish list of writers is mostly based on stuff I grew up reading, a lot of the British creators who worked with 2000 AD. Grant Morrison, Alan Grant, Garth Ennis... For the same reasons I’ve always wanted to do a story for 2000 AD, just a Future Shock perhaps. But they’ve always ignored by emails for the most part. I’ve no idea what I need to do to get work there... Getting to do something Batman related would be great, he and Spidey are probably my favorite superheroes, as they are for most.

UJ: What is the obsession with robots? SL: Everybody loves robots! Ha-ha, well on one level it’s a visual thing - robot shapes, proportion and anatomy give you more freedom than most things you draw. There’s also the whole reflection of humanity aspect. Or the idea that objects could acquire sentience. Maybe at the end of the day it’s mostly about the fantasy of interacting with things that are like us yet not-us. Robots, zombies, aliens, vampires - there’s an otherliness to all of them, yet with a human spark that makes them fascinating.

UJ: Ray Bradbury just turned 91 on 22 August. Malinky Robot won the Best Science Fiction Comic Album at the Utopiales International SF Festival. What is the future of/for science fiction? SL: It’s always going to be around I guess - human beings can’t stop imagining their futures. I can’t say I’m the biggest sci-fi fan/reader. Despite watching Star Wars, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Blade Runner and Doctor Who many times over, I’ve only read a small splattering of classic or contemporary sci-fi, with just a vague awareness of different movements within the genre. So any Big Thoughts on sci-fi’s future would escape me. I don’t think we’ll ever run out of, or lose interest in, stories about robots, time travel and alien invasions; they’re all just ways of reflecting ourselves after all, and we’re such a self-involved lot.

UJ: What is with the move into the fine arts? Does it pay better; make you more famous among the high society? SL: Paintings.... I’ve always been interested in them. That’s one of the reasons why I went to art school in the first place. I did a lot of them in school, and when I graduated from RISD the hope was always to balance the comics and the paintings. It’s tilted much more to the comics’ side, I guess, but I still try to paint whenever I get the chance. I used to say that the comics tend to be more commercially driven and the paintings more personal, but that seems to misstate the point. All art has to communicate in some way; otherwise it’d be too solipsistic and indulgent. Maybe better to say that paintings communicate differently. Though I like to include comic tropes and symbols in the paintings, it’s a different medium, and I think moving from one to the other and back gives me room to explore different possibilities. I’m happy if people do want to buy the paintings, hopefully for the right reasons, since it means I get more opportunities to paint and get the works seen. But the art market has its own idiosyncrasies, with muddier waters than comics perhaps, so that aspect I’m not always comfortable with.

UJ: Malinky has been translated into French and Italian. When is the Malay and Chinese versions coming out? SL: Ha-ha no idea. Saya Tak Tau. (Malay for ‘I don’t know’) UJ: How has studying Philosophy at Cambridge University helped you in your thinking/writing/drawing? SL: I had a lot of adolescent questions about everything in the world when I went to college. Religion, Meaning, Political Organization.... All big, woolly issues hard to get a handle on. Philosophy, I guess, helped clarify them a little - if not providing actual answers, at least helping frame the questions better. Standing on the shoulders of all those geniuses and all that.  But I don’t think the philosophical ideas I read at Cambridge ever directly made their way into any of the comics I’ve done. Though maybe in a looser sense, when I was drawing the Frankie and Poo comic strips I did for The New Paper. I


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UJ: Are you rich? SL: It’s all relative. UJ: Tell us more about your next project on the 1st Chinese superhero. SL: Gene Yang discovered this Chinese-American superhero character from way back when and decided to continue his exploration of ChineseAmerican identity by telling his version of the character’s origins. We’d worked on a short story for Secret Identities before as mentioned, so for various reasons thought it’d be fun to collaborate together again. Aside from

that... I guess I’d never thought about my own Asian identity much when I was in Singapore. I think when you’re part of the ruling majority race you just tend to take everything for granted. The times in the US and UK though made me more aware of how things could be very different. Drunken college kids shouting “Chinky Chong” when they drove past you, a general sense of being variously more invisible or more noticeable due to skin colour. So I did explore some of those identity issues in artworks in RISD, and even made Jeriven in My Faith in Frankie into an Asian god. It never really became an obvious part of the story because that was never really one of Mike’s concerns, but I guess I’m just saying there is some natural progression from all that to me working on this project with Gene. UJ: For years, you have been trying to build a community of comic’s artists in Singapore. How successful have you been? Were you a founding member of ACAS (Association of Comic Artists Singapore)?

sure there’s a local presence at the convention, meeting once in a while with fellow creators to talk about how to make things better. Measuring success is tricky, though you could argue that strictly in financial terms there’s not yet been anything on the local scene that’s really been Big. Still, again it’s all relative, and I think we are further down the road than we were, say, ten years ago. Panels at the Singapore Writer’s Festival, books on display at stores, National Arts Council of Singapore recognition even. Small, but cumulative, steps I hope. I was an ACAS member when it was first founded. I think it was a bit of a premature entity at the time though - there needed to be a more substantial body of local work and creators before something like ACAS would make sense. Are we closer to that today? I think so, though a looser collective is probably still easier to handle at this stage than something as official as a Singapore Association. ACAS under Jerry Hinds is forging its own path; different from the one others are taking perhaps, but at the end of the day we are all trying to help the industry here get better. UJ: You have done adaptations. Which novel/non-fiction/philosophy book would you like to turn into a comic book? SL: John Gardner’s Grendel. UJ: Complete these sentences: Comics are important because.... SL: Everything is important. Diversity becomes us, and we all try to make a space for our own particular loves and likes. UJ: The future of comics lies in/with..... SL: Good Storytelling. Or possibly China. UJ: If I were not a comic’s artist, I’d be.... SL: Painting more, possibly. f

SL: Hmm... It’s been a long road and still a ways to go yet. I remember in the early days putting up posters at comic and book stores inviting artists to submit works for a comic’s anthology. That never got beyond the wishful thinking stage, but I guess Liquid City years later was the same sort of project - an attempt to create a platform for artists to work together and know each other better, to have material more readily available for readers. Over time I guess we’ve slowly built up some sort of loose community here. Ties with book stores like Kinokuniya and Planerds, working with the STGCC (Singapore Toy Game and Comic Convention) organizers to make


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Malinky Robot: Bicycle (cover)

Van Ornum continued from page 8 surgery and chemotherapy and no one ever spoke of any other therapies or practices. I wanted to do it differently. Then one day I was invited to an open house at an Acupuncture school in Los Angeles. I thought it would be an interesting way to spend an afternoon, but when I entered the building I was completely overcome by a knowing that I belonged exactly in that place. I had no choice in the matter. When people ask me why I chose Acupuncture I say “I did not choose it, it chose me!” I’ve been in private practice in Redlands now for 25 years and it continues to be interesting and exciting to me even after all these years. UJ: Which came first your interest in art or your interest in healing and do you think there is an intimate connection between art and healing? TVO: Art and healing are not really two separate things, therefore I cannot say which I was interested in first. I’ve always been one to freely indulge in creative expression. Dance, gardening, arrangement of environments, writing, storytelling, creativity is a way of life for me; it is our most natural way of being. When we are deprived of full creative expression we become ill over time. Instead of saying art and healing, let’s instead use the words creativity and wholeness. We can only be whole and well through expression of our creative impulses and ideas. Creativity and wholeness are our birthright. When we are not creative we lose our connection to Self and Soul. I believe that is the basic source of illness. We lose touch with our creativity and indulge in overworking, overeating. We dull ourselves with continuous entertainment; engage in superficial relationships; our entire way of life becomes a grasping for things in our external world to fill the emptiness that we feel, to sooth the illness that has resulted from the disconnection. This is most prevalent in Western culture. By the way, the United States leads the world in instances of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and many other degenerative diseases. The crisis in our present state of health is really a crisis resulting from disconnection from our creative expressive nature. I’d like to quote one of my most influential teachers, Deepak Chopra who says, “Healing is the return of the memory of wholeness”. When we become more and more ill over time, if we become so disconnected from ourselves that we cannot remember what it was like to be well, how can we possibly get back there? How can we be whole again? Drug therapy and surgery have their place but they only address symptoms (often not very effectively). My job, as I see it, is to help my patients remember who they are, to find the spark, the life force that they’ve lost along the way. I help them to find joy through rediscovering what they love about themselves and their lives. To rediscover one’s creativity is to learn to live again and to live fully. Is there a connection between healing and art? Absolutely! Healing is an art and creative expression leads to healing.

practicing, the real challenge of doing the work and finding our way begins. One might even say that this is the point at which our real education begins. Our patients then become our teachers. Each case is different, each visit different. Outcome is seldom what is anticipated, there are always surprises. What we must learn most of all is to be completely present to each person in each moment. Letting go of expectations, detaching from outcome, listening with open hearts and being in the process of what is actually happening. We do not “do” the healing. We become the instrument of the healing process. It requires intuition and willingness to be open. We cannot make healing happen. We must allow it. Self importance has no place here. The patient and I are a team and together we do the work. This is why I never call myself a healer. The healing comes from something much greater. The real art is in the letting go and allowing, while I choose the correct acupuncture points and share whatever wisdom I have to offer. Healing is a process, a conversation, something we move toward. UJ: Do you think that both creating art and being a good healer require a certain mental attitude and a certain spiritual mentality? TVO: I don’t think that engaging in art-making or healing work requires a spiritual mindset. I believe that they both rather lead you to a spiritual mindset. It becomes clear to an effective practitioner or artist that something greater than ourselves is working through us. We may begin from ego and intention but very quickly something else takes over. This is why I feel that healing work and creative work are so intimately related and that one can certainly lead to the other. UJ: Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with our audience. You have given us much to think about. TVO: You’re welcome. f

UJ: Do you think that most women are better at providing medical care to people who require it than men are? TVO: Not at all. Providing care of any sort requires compassion and a sense of caring about others. Healing arts are practiced effectively by both sexes. I have known many men over the years who are very good acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, psychotherapists. Two of the practitioners working in my office are men. Now that I think about it, over the years I have personally seen more men than women for my own personal therapy. A desire to serve can be present regardless of gender. I would never make such a generalization anyway about who is better, men or women. UJ: Do you think that giving therapy and healing is an art form in itself and requires an imaginative approach to do it correctly? TVO: Absolutely. We all, regardless of the field in which we are trained, receive the basic information required by the overseeing agencies. The curriculum is set and we all get the training necessary, whether we are medical doctors, practitioners of Chinese medicine or whatever our chosen field. Once we receive the licenses and documents needed to begin


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Night Wanderer by Theresa Van Ornum

Drake continued from page 16

late. No one noticed, because it was the first book and no one had ever heard of me. Mortals & Deities was also released a few months late, much to the chagrin of the thousands of fans who pre-ordered it. And, unfortunately, the third book, Dreams & Nightmares, is not going to make the December 2011 release date either. I.I.I. just announced that Dreams & Nightmares will now be released in April of 2012. It is just a few extra months, and I hate that it has happened, but there is just so much that can go astray with a project of this size and cause it to be delayed. And with Dreams & Nightmares, I think everything that could have delayed the project DID delay the project. Luckily for me, my fans are very loyal. So, even with all the thousands of copies pre-sold, we have not received one single cancelation. A few emails containing some low growls and moans, but everyone is so excited to get into book three, no one is willing to jump ship, which I am immensely proud of. UJ: We heard that you had a very good crowd for your workshop at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con. Can you give our readers a brief idea of what you talk about, especially to new writers? Drake: One of the things I started doing while writing book two, Mortals & Deities, was to take all the knowledge I had gained about the craft and create some writing classes. It was a way for me to give back to the industry for the opportunities I had received. I had been giving the classes all over the country for about a year when Comic-Con (the largest convention of any type in the U.S.) called me up and asked me to do one for them. I was both honored and completely terrified. They put me in a room that held 506 chairs. Now, while this is one of their smaller rooms, I am not that well known as an author. So, I was thinking I could fill at least six of those chairs. But, I knew the room was going to feel AWFUL empty. And that is what terrified me. An empty room staring back at me would simply validate that I was not well-known enough to have my own session at Comic-Con. On my way to the room on the morning of the class, my fears were stoked to a new high as I passed other sessions already in progress that had perhaps 50 attendees. I thought to myself that if I could have at least 50, I would be fine. I walked into what I “thought” was my room, but there were about 200 people already waiting. So, I kicked myself for being a nervous fool, walked back out of that room (it was obviously not the room I was teaching in), and asked the nice attendant to direct me to the correct room. He just looked at me kind of funny and pointed me back to the room I had just vacated. That is when I looked at the sign out front and saw my name. A little impressed, as well as stunned, I returned to the room. I looked at the 200+ faces and said, “You all do realize that Bruce Campbell is speaking at the same time as me, right? He’s not speaking in this room, but one down the hall.” (I am a huge Bruce Campbell fan, and he really was speaking right down the hall at the same time as me.) Everyone laughed. No one left. Before the class started, it was standing room only, with about 520 in attendance. The Comic-Con staff had to shut the doors so that no one else could enter. It was a really nice feeling. Even better was the call I received the week after Comic-con letting me know that my session was one of the highest-rated they had that year. They now have me scheduled to do eight sessions (two per day) at Comic-Con 2012. For readers who want more information about my classes, or my creative writing book that will be out in the first part of next year, they can check out my “MAD writing lesson” section of my website at maxwellalexanderdrake. com, or they can check out and read a few hundred reviews from people who have taken my classes. UJ: Can you tell us a bit of your background? Drake: Yes…background. Usually, that is a subject I avoid like the plague. I look at the background of other authors in my genre who are doing well and who I admire. Secretly, I covet their background. They have such great pedigrees; it is no wonder they are successful. I would love to tell your readers that all my great reviews, all my awards, my wonderful fan base that is now literally growing every single day – I


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would love to tell them that it is all justified due to my amazing background Unfortunately, I would be lying. For, if there has ever been an author who should not succeed, it would be me. I am dyslexic and I graduated high school at a remedial 9th grade English level. I have never spent one day in “higher education.” The fact that I am not only an author—making a living off the written word—but a teacher of the craft, is preposterous to me. It is an oxymoron, like “jumbo shrimp.” Yet, here I stand; making a living in an industry that I should have no business being in. And, truth be told, that is probably the reason I am successful. Because I know I do not belong, I try harder than others. Because I know I do not have the background, I spend more time learning my craft. Because this is not easy for me, I throw myself at my work with a vengeance; and I think my fans reap the rewards of that extra effort. UJ: It’s always exciting when any writer can capture the imagination of young people. What do you think of the current state of literacy, especially in this country? DRAKE: I have two young boys of my own (seven & nine) and my wife is a teacher. (Not a dysfunctional sci-fi / fantasy author playing at teaching like me, but a real “go to a school and teach a group of kids” teacher.) So, literacy in the U.S. is something that is close to my heart. And not just because I need readers so I can pay my mortgage. The statistics are frightening. Our country is behind in not only reading, but also math, science, etc. The one contribution I think I add is that my stuff is not Moby Dick. Don’t get me wrong, Moby Dick is a classic, and a tale worth reading. But, there is nothing fun about reading it. Yes, it is English; but it is so different from how we talk today, it might as well be a different language. To entice kids to read, you cannot shove a book down their throat that is no fun to read. You need to build their love of the written word with enjoyable stories. Let them read things that are well written, sure; but, let them read things that are fun in middle and high school. Save books like Moby Dick for college. For me, personally, I was in my 30’s before I could finish Moby Dick. I was lucky, however, to gain my love of reading at a young age with books like the Chronicles of Narnia, the Dragonlance Saga, and Conan. Now, that being said, the Genesis of Oblivion Saga, while it has now won multiple young adult awards, is not written as a young adult novel. It is fine continued on page 24


rank Mangione is the vice-president of Uncle Jam but also is semi-retired in the beautiful Central Coast where he lives with his brother Tony near Pismo Beach. My wife Linda and I made a drive up to Pismo, staying three nights in the charming Tides Motel overlooking the Pacific Ocean during an on-and-off-again rainy weekend in November 2011.

Frank recently showed us photos of what he has been up to since moving to the beach. These incredible pictures show Frank rescuing pelicans on the Pismo Beach Pier! They were taken by Mike Savine. I agreed to help Frank gather them up into a book that would help the non-profit animal rescue group called Pacific Wildlife Care in Morro Bay. We started off this adventure to the Central Coast with a visit to The Monarch Butterfly Grove where Linda captured some

amazing images of these butterflies hanging from the trees and on some milkweed plants. These butterflies fly all the way from Canada to this grove in Pismo and then lay their eggs in California. We will have more coverage


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of the artists and the scene of the California Central Coast next spring in the 101st edition of Uncle Jam, including my old friends Pam and Joel Sansone who create their unique enamel-on-copper art in Los Olivos.

(continued from page 5)

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to develop his or her own unique style? JQ: Style is a consequence of your personality. Just as you develop as an individual, your style will also keep evolving. In this sense, it is convenient to walk through life with a sense of permanent search and learning, avoiding “proven formulas” and any other kinds of commercial commodities. I don’t believe in Style as in a formula, just as I don’t believe it’s something you “find” and that remains static, either; but rather something that grows and changes at the same pace as the person. For me, Style becomes unique and unrepeatable at the moment we realize that as individuals we are unique and unrepeatable. At that point, Style stops being a mere mannerism and becomes something deeper. I could shorten it like this: “Style is you.”

que desarolle su propio estilo? JQ: El estilo es una consecuencia de la personalidad, de manera que se irá desarrollando en la misma medida que cada cual se desarrolle como individuo. En ese sentido lo conveniente es ir por la vida con una actitud permanente de búsqueda y aprendizaje, huyendo de las formulas probadas y todo tipo de comodidades comerciales. No creo en el estilo como una fórmula, tampoco creo que sea algo que “se encuentra” y permanece estático; sino que crece y va cambiando paralelamente a la persona. Para mí, el estilo se vuelve único e irrepetible en el momento en que entendemos que como individuos somos únicos e irrepetibles, es ahí donde el estilo déjà de ser un simple amaneramiento para convertirse en algo más profundo. Podría resumirlo de la siguiente manera: “el estilo eres tú”.

UJ: How do you see the future for your work and for comics in general? JQ: In this regard I am pessimistic. I believe that the future of the comic industry is somber at best. I think that its historical peak is over, and now it’s the turn for other media more closely related with technology--such as movies, videogames, language, multimedia, and by default, any number of combinations of all-- to take over. Nevertheless, comics as a language, as a medium to express ideas and emotions, will continue to exist as long as there is someone who values and enjoys the pleasure of living page after page inside a story that they like. The future of my own works is still unknown, but it depends on my own ability to complete and conclude the projects I have in mind. UJ: How much time do you devote to your artwork each day? JQ: I devote almost my whole day to commercial drawing, which is what gives me the income I need to live on a daily basis. Sadly, there’s very little time left to spend on my personal projects, which are what I enjoy doing most. It’s like spending the whole day doing homework, just to be able to go out and play for a few minutes. UJ: How did you break into art professionally and what do you suggest for other young artists? JQ: I began publishing at age 17 in “La Jornada”, a very important Mexican newspaper, in their comic strip supplement. Then I founded “El Gallito Ingles” magazine with some other artists of my generation. Later I collaborated in different publications and fanzines, including MAD Magazine, Mexico Edition. I currently publish BUBA as a monthly comic in the Pop & Culture magazine “La Mosca”, and I also spend my free time in personal projects (basically BUBA books and music.) UJ: Please tell us your plans for the future? JQ: I have three BUBA books ready for the printers. My only problem is that I have yet to find an editor interested in publishing them. One of my goals is to find a way to publish them. Also, I am interested in experimenting with different media other than comics. I really want to create animation, music, and, in my wildest dreams, even videogames all related to Buba and the universe I’ve created for her; but at the moment, all of this is still in the early planning stages. I hope that the God of Comics will take pity on me, and that I can complete at least half of all the projects I have in mind. f


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UJ: Como vislumbras el future de tu obra y los comics en general? JQ: A este respect soy un poco pesimista. Creo que el future de las industria del comic es bastante sombrío; me parece que su momento historic ya pasó y ahora toca el turno a otros medios relacionados de manera más estrecha con la tecnología (como el cine, los videojuegos, los lenguajes multimedia y-por extension-una combinación de todos ellos). Sin embargo el comic como lenguaje, como medio para expresar ideas y emociones, seguirá existiendo mientras haya quien lo valore y disfrute del placer de pasar una página tras otra de la historia de nuestros afectos. El future de mi obra es una incognita, pero dependerá sin duda alguna de mi capacidad para consolidar y concreter los proyectos que tengo en mente. UJ: Cuanto tiempo didicas a tu arte al dia? JQ: Dedico casi todo el día al dibujo commercial, que es lo que me permite obtener el dinero que necesito. Es como tener que hacer todo el día la tarea para poder salir a jugar unos pocos minutes. UJ: Cómo te iniciaste en el medio professional y cual es tu recomendación para otros jóvenes autores? JQ: Comencé a publicar a los 17 años en el suplemento de historietas de La Jornada, un importante diario mexicano. Luego fundé junto con otros dibujantes de mi generación la revista Gallito Cómic’s y después colaboré en distintas revistas y fanzines, entre ellos la edición Mexicana de MAD. Actualmente publico mensualmente el comic de Buba en la revista de cultura y rock La Mosca, además de trabajar en mi tiempo libre en proyectos personales (básicamente libros y música de Buba). UJ: Por favor, comentanos tus planes a futuro? JQ: Tengo tres libros de Buba listos para entrar a imprenta, el problema es que no he conseguido un editor que se interese en ellos. Así que u na de mis tareas mas apremiantes es encontrar la manera de publicarlos. También me interesa experimentar otros soportes distintos a la historieta, tengo muchas ganas de hacer animación, música y –en mis mayors delirioushasta videojuegos, todos relacionados con Buba y el universe que he creado en torno a ella…pero hasta el momento todo se ha quedado en simples planes. Espero que el Dios de los comiqueros se apiade un poco de mí y pueda concreter al menos la mitad de los que tengo en mente. f

TikiOasis by Phil Yeh

own store. I surfed just this one time! I first saw the artwork of Rick Griffin in 1970. He blew me away with his fantastic renderings of waves, combined with strange cosmic lettering. I immediately knew that I would devote my life to creating art. Shortly thereafter, a good friend of mine named Don Yasuda introduced me to the work of Hal Robinson, an artist for Easyriders magazine. I took up riding motorcycles because of Robinson’s fantastic line

Linda and I attended Tiki Oasis in San Diego last summer. It was the first time we had ever attended any Tiki event. We found out about the event in a wonderful magazine called Tiki, and it brought back fond memories for me of building a little tiki hut in the 1960s in my neighbors’ backyard. These neighbors were from the small island of Lanai, and I think this is why I have such a fondness for Hawaii. My fondness for Hawaii and tikis also probably has something to do with escape and the TV show Gilligan’s Island. I lived in a neighborhood near the Watts towers and escaping to a tropical island

Medusirena and Friend

often seemed like a very nice idea. In the 1970s I moved to Seal Beach and made friends with the surfer crowd; although I didn’t surf until I was 40, on a beach in Waikiki. My friend Roy Vierra used to give the tourists surf lessons and now owns his


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work. Years later when we met, he told me he didn’t ride! We shared a good laugh over this and he ended up drawing me into an issue of Easyriders. He also did a fantastic cover for Uncle Jam in the 1980s. We wanted to work together on a project, but he found out that he had cancer and sadly he passed away before we could do it. I first met Griffin in the mid-1970s. We featured an interview that Greg Escalante, Tom Luth, and I first conducted in 1976 and reran it in Uncle Jam 97. Griffin’s art truly took you to another place and for this reason alone I believe in the incredible power that art has to heal and inspire us. A few years ago The Laguna Beach Museum of Art had a fantastic retrospective of this unique Californian artist, who tragically died in a motorcycle accident in 1991. Yasuda passed away earlier this year, and now more than ever I try to take time off to really enjoy life. It’s way too expensive these days to zip off to Hawaii like I used to; but in-between trips to paradise, you can always go to a Tiki bar or one of these Tiki events. Tiki Oasis 11, subtitled South of the Border: A Retro Tijuana Style Tiki Party, was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in San Diego’s Hotel Circle August 18-21, 2011. It did not disappoint! We met our friend Matt Lorentz there on the last day of the event. The first thing we noticed was that it wasn’t too crowded to enjoy, which sadly is now the case for San Diego’s Comic-Con. Tiki Oasis has the ambiance of a good party. The merchants selling their wares and the artists who show their art reflect this feeling. Lorentz, who has done t-shirt designs for Tony Medusirena and Phil Yeh

Drake continued from page 20 for the younger reader (I do not write any sex or cussing) and I do have fans as young as nine. But, my target audience for this series is sixteen and up. The majority of my fans fall between the ages of fifteen and fifty, though I do have fans in their eighties. UJ: You also write graphic novels, can you please tell us about this area of your work? Drake: Like much of my career, I accidentally fell into the graphic novel industry. I had a story that I intended to write as a novel: Dead Ned – A Wild Undead West Adventure. I was at a conference sharing a booth with an amazing artist named Cyril van der Hagen and I told him about the story. He was already a fan of mine and pitched me on the idea of doing it as a graphic novel instead. The rest is, as they say, “history.” None of these projects will be out to market until later in 2012 or beginning of 2013, but I now have four different graphic novel projects I am working on. Weirder still, I have a sci-fi comedy musical that just got picked up and funded that will be showing in Las Vegas at the end of 2012. It is called, KABOOM! The end of life on Earth… a comedy. Again, something I tripped into; but a project I think is really fun and enjoyable. After opening night, you can ask me if I feel the same way.

Jason Lee and Michele Del Rey Hawk, Quicksilver, and No Fear, was soaking up the energy, as was I. Artists need stimulation to get new ideas and it didn’t hurt to have such a pleasant environment of tropical drinks and nice people. We took a few pictures for this issue and talked with some of the artists. We ran into Jason Lee, a talented young guitarist who is brilliantly reinventing surf music with his band, the R.I.P.tides. His massive blonde coif is as distinctive as his fluid, blistering guitar tone. Based in the San Diego area, Jason’s brand of “psychobilly” instrumental music fuses the traditional surf-rock sounds of Dick Dale and the Ventures with horrorsoundtrack darkness and a good dose of black humor. The R.I.P.tides are made up of bassist Tony Hayse and drummer Josh Olmos; along with backup dancers Crystal Vanilla Cake, Ilse, and Michele Del Rey, who round out the band’s visual spectacle. Jason and the R.I.P.tides have headlined the Rockabilly Fest in Ramona, California, and the South Bay Surf Stomp; opened for artists like Stan Ridgway, Hayseed Surfers, and English Beat; and toured all around the country spreading the surf gospel. Their debut album, Blood on the Beach, is available from the band via their Facebook page. (Search: Jason Lee and the R.I.P.tides.) Their addictive, always danceable music is a uniquely retro sound that always satisfies! In Uncle Jam 99, I conducted an interview with a real life mermaid and she actually traveled from Florida to attend Tiki Oasis. She bills herself MeduSirena, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, and she is as nice in person as she is on Facebook. She had performed earlier that weekend, and was a big hit. We hope to see her perform sometime in the future, maybe even in Florida. Next year I hope to attend Tiki Oasis for the entire weekend. The 2012 event will be from August 16-19, and the theme for TO12 is SPY. You can find out more in Tiki magazine or at f


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UJ: With the great success of the Harry Potter films, are there plans to turn this Saga into films? And what thoughts do you have on books made into films? Drake: Hollywood has knocked upon my door a few times. Not for the Genesis of Oblivion Saga, but for other projects I have in the works. I do not mind admitting this; Hollywood scares me just a bit. So far, I have not taken up any offers. I have seven projects coming to market in the next two years. And it seems that every few months something else comes my way. As long as I continue to write things that readers want to read, I am happy. It is not that I am unwilling to spread out – I am doing novels, graphic novels, and a friggin’ musical, after all! So, eventually I am sure a project will come along that will pull me in the film industry. But for now, like for most of the world, working in Hollywood is just a dream for me. As to adaptation, that is not really a fair question. A book is always going to be better than a movie. That is not a bad thing, nor a negative on the movie industry. There is just so much more you can do with a book. A film is limited to what can be shown. C.G. has come a long way in making things like Dragons seem more real. But, C.G., no matter how good it gets, will never be as good as the human imagination. And that is what I, as an author, get to use. I get to paint my “movie” on the canvas of your imagination. A canvas that is limitless. Movies have a limited canvas. They are great – I am a huge movie fan. Still, a book can take you places a movie never will. And I am not talking about physical places. In a book, you can go deeper inside the head and emotions of a character. That is just not possible in film. f Letters continued from page 39

generosity. It’s an honor to know them. What does the future hold for the recently married (!) Phil & Linda? A trip to Israel as honored guests. Then hopefully... another hundred issues. And hundreds of beautiful murals. And if they are painted in Southern California, you just might see me there. I’ll be the guy at the top of the ladder, OK?   Rory Murray Somewhere in the “Inland Empire”

Chicagoland By Phil Yeh

Christopher Lloyd signed our guitar at Wizard Comic Con I have gone back to the city where I was born at least once a year for the past 27 years. Sometimes I return to the Chicagoland area two or three times each year, depending on the number of speaking and mural events I have in the area. This past August my wife Linda and my friend Phil Ortiz (one of the original artists on The Simpsons) again visited the area. Phil and I attended the Wizard Comic Con and also did some sightseeing in the area. My longtime partner in the area, Geoff Bevington, joined us for a day at the convention and my old friend, Jim Siergey, also came out for a day. Geoff is the creator of Steve the Dog and we did two books together in 2010. Steve the Dog & the Winged Tiger was set in my birth city and the sequel, The Winged Tiger in Singapore, was set Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumkins) at Wizard


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in that island country with guest artist He Shuxin. Both books were colored by Lieve Jerger and encourage people of all ages to balance their lives a bit and do other things outside of electronic entertainment. Chicagoland is the name given to the overall area and I can state from many trips to this area that you will never run out of things to see and do here! Downtown Chicago is one of the best cities in the United States and as an architecture fan, there is so much to see in just the buildings alone. We spent a couple of days sightseeing in Chicago; but also got out to the suburbs of Oak Park, where the architect Frank Lloyd Wright had a home and studio, now a museum. There are also a lot of the homes that he designed in the neighborhood, and we took a nice walk enjoying his unique architecture before going to his studio and home. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys good design! If nothing else, you must see the outstanding Millennium Park which features the wonderful Jay Pritzker Pavilion designed by the innovative

architect Frank Gehry. His unique style of folded metal is perfect for the outdoor bandstand. The park also hosts two giant sculptures by Catalan conceptual artist Jaume Plensa. These two rectangles face each other and show a thousand Chicagoland faces on giant screens. When the weather is nice, they also shoot water from the peoples’ mouths and it’s always fun to watch people playing in the area below during the summer. The other big attraction of this park is called “Cloud Gate” by the sculptor Anish Kapoor. Most folks call it “The Bean” and it is amazing to see everyone taking photos by this giant metal bean! We spent one day walking the streets of suburban town of Naperville and came across two artists busy working on a huge mural there. Dodie


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Mondero and Marianne Lisson Kuhn spoke to us about their mural and Marianne also gave us an amazing hardcover book called Century Walk: Art Imitating History by Jini Leeds Clare, which talks about this incredible public art project that has been in Naperville since 1995. Their work is featured in this book along with several other sculptors and muralists. It is quite an impressive feat to have so much public artwork actually catalogued in a high quality book. I have traveled throughout the world and rarely have I seen such a presentation from a city the size of Naperville. Sculptor Leo Rijn, who was born in Fontana, California and studied sculpture at Cal State University Long Beach. He created wonderful sculptures based on the works of Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) for the Dr. Seuss Tribute Collection at both the downtown library in Naperville and 95th Street Library. The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham will delight all ages! We were pleasantly surprised that our old friend, cartoonist Dick Locher, created a huge sculpture of Dick Tracy along the river. Dick actually drew the comic strip for many years after creator Chester Gould. It was written by Max Allan Collins at one time. In January of 2011, Locher retired and turned over the strip to artist Joe Stanton and writer Mike Curtis. It’s nice to see that the strip is still running after first being created in 1931! Dick was kind enough to come out to an early event in downtown Chicago on our Cartoonists across America & the World Tour in 1986. It turns out that Dick is


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a resident of Naperville. Phil and I naturally had to get a picture with Dick Tracy! “Horse Market Days” is a collection of bronze sculptures by different artists. “The Auction Horse” is by Robert Buono, a Viet Nam vet who was inspired by the renowned Egyptian sculptor Mustafa Naguib. “The Auction Runner” depicts a boy leading the horse and is by Pamela S. Carpenter. The third piece is a sculpture of a little dog by Torsten Muehl. There is so much public art in this city that it would take you a whole day to just see it all. Naperville is also filled with great restaurants and shops, and I would suggest that you give this town at least two days to really relax and enjoy it. d

Zider I Up, Lanlord*:

A Scramble through Somerset, Cider Capital of the World By Terri Elders

*”Proprietor, please can you furnish me with your wine list?” Translation: “Zider I up, lanlord.”---A Dictionary of Bristle, the language of Bristolians. In the Uncle Jam June Clam Issue 1980 I wrote about my first trip to England, “Posies Pubs and Poets.” My piece bristled with commentary about Westminster Abbey, Mayfair, London Bridge, the West End and Dr. Samuel Johnson’s house. In fact, I concluded my article with Johnson’s words: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” The dozen or so times I’ve returned to England, I’ve always stayed for several days in my absolutely favorite city. But this summer I wondered… is it possible to hit England and bypass London? Is there more to “this scepter’d isle… this other Eden… this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,” than its capital? In early August after two weeks studying history at the University of Cambridge, I’d wearied of the ways of men. This year’s history track carried an overarching theme of “war and peace,” so I’d been immersed in the wrongdoings of historic warlords Henry VIII, Napoleon and General Franco. After the farewell dinner at Clare College, I expected it was time to appreciate more sensible creatures, such as cattle and sheep. So I hopped on a National Express bus and headed south to Somerset, known as the jewel of the West Country, a destination of dramatic coastline, seaside resorts, epic English countryside…and the widest variety of cider in the world. I’ve never had a sophisticated palate for wine. Sure, I can distinguish between Two Buck Chuck and Chateau Margaux, but anything in between really is wasted on me. But after decades of sipping cider on tap at pubs throughout Great Britain, I’ve become a bit of a cider connoisseur. I can tell the difference between dry, sweet and medium, and recognize scrumpy at first slurp Somerset is one of the few English countries where real farmhouse cider, known as scrumpy named after a small or withered scrump apple, is still made using traditional methods. At Rich’s Cider Farm at Watchfield, my English host Heather Bird and I wandered through the cider museum and learned that in the 1870s the production of cider in Britain neared 15 million gallons. The daily allowance per laborer was half a gallon a day. Of course, those men did very strenuous work which would work up a good thirst. Local legend suggests that perhaps some unsavory additives, such as iron nails, were added to give strength. Rich’s features a vat that holds 10,000 gallons of cider. A placard announces that this equals 80,000 pints. If a person drank four pints a day,


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it would take 54 years, 9 months and 20 days to empty that particular vat. The United Kingdom still has the highest per capita consumption of cider, as well as the largest cider-producing companies in the world, including H. P. Bulmer, the largest. The UK currently produces 600 million liters of cider each year. Fittingly, one of Somerset’s most popular performing groups is the Wurzles. This local band, with a history stretching over 40 years, had two hits in the ‘70s, “Combine Harvester” and “I Am a Cider Drinker.” The latter’s chorus illustrates the celebrated status of cider in good old Somerset: “I am a Cider Drinker, I drinks it all of the day, I am a Cider Drinker, it soothes all me troubles away, Ooh arrh, ooh arrh ay, Ooh arrh, ooh arrh ay” After leaving Rich’s, one of over three dozen smallscale cider makers in South West England, I returned to Weston-super-Mare with Heather. We dropped by Sainsbury’s to pick up some groceries, and I stood in such awe at the cider shelves that I whipped out my camera to photograph the varieties on offer. The clerk, who was restocking the shelves, watched me curiously. I mentioned that I’d counted at least two dozen brands, ranging from the familiar mass-produced Stella Artois, Blackthorn and Strongbox to the intriguing small-scale Rough Old Wife and Orchard Pig. “It’s Somerset, luv,” the clerk told me with a wink, “Cider’s our wine!”There’s more to Somerset than just cider mills, of course, though I’d settle for just those. There are also other sights to see, and over the years I’ve seen several: •

Weston-super-Mare’s Grand Pier, the best pier in the world, with its bonfire nights, afternoon tea dances, Go-Kart racing, Crystal Maze, 4-D cinema (air blasts, shaking seats, water sprays to enhance the movie-going experience).

Cheddar Gorge, with limestone cliffs towering 450 feet above a gorge three miles long, 300 million years in the making, and home of cheddar cheese.

Seaside towns of Burnham-in-Sea, Berrow and Brean, which feature one of the longest stretches of golden sand in Europe, seven miles long.

Willow and Wetlands Visitor Center, near Taunton, with a unique basket museum.

Hestercombe Gardens, with fifty acres of landscape and formal

gardens. Bakelite Museum, with the world’s largest collection of Bakelight and vintage plastics in the world. •

Exmoor Owl & Hawk Center, near Porlock.

As my stay in Somerset drew to a close, Heather and I decided to take the 30-minute train ride from Weston-super-Mare to Bristol, the most populous city in South West England. We wanted to help the Zoological Gardens celebrate its 175th birthday. Zoos, like clowns, aren’t to everyone’s taste. This one, though, seems to have universal appeal. Its mission is “to maintain and defend biodiversity through breeding endangered species, conserving threatened species and habitats and promoting a wider understanding of the natural world.” No elephants or camels at this well-maintained and beautifully landscaped zoo…but plenty of fruit bats, meerkats, penguins, prairie dogs, butterflies, and Bristol’s smallest cinema, an eight-seater where patrons can watch a video that details the early days of the place. In conclusion, did I suffer any ill effects from bypassing London this year? No. In fact, luck was on my side. On the morning of August 6 I traveled through Tottenham, North London, on my way to Victoria Station to change buses to head south to Somerset. All was tranquil. Then that night, in quiet Weston-super-Mare, my friend Heather and I poured ourselves a pint of cider and flipped on the telly, only to see rioters flood Tottenham’s streets, looting and burning. Last year I’d spent several days in London following my Cambridge courses. This year I’d chosen to bypass London…and it was a wise choice. But am I put off London for good? Certainly not! This upcoming year is the Dickens bicentennial, and I’ve just enrolled in “The Best of Times: Dickens at 200,” through Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel). Next June I’ll be back pub crawling and cider swilling at London’s The George and The Prospect of Whitby. Maybe they’ll have some Rough Old Wife or Orchard Pig. Cheers! f


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accident, perhaps a calling. Around 9 years ago, my sister was building a new home which had many large structural beams in its design. I was standing in the front yard with her, looking at a pile of materials from the builder that was to be discarded. In it was a beautiful, imperfect, huge wooden beam. It seemed such a shame that this wonderful gift of nature would simply be thrown away. As I studied it, it came to me to build a cross from it. So I did. I cut, shaped and welded rusted metals to the basic cross shape, and was quite stunned when I viewed the simplistic power and emotion of the finished piece. A gallery owner in Malibu was equally impressed with the piece, and asked me to make more for a show. A year later, I had 20 pieces, we had a successful show, and it went from there. I love making crosses. There are so many different directions I can take it. From an old world, rustic looking piece to a modern, high gloss, slick piece. My ideas for the crosses are endless. UJ: Your monthly artist showcases not only feature a visual artist but also performing artists as well. Can you tell us about those events? DG: D Gallery hosts an ongoing FREE music and art event the second Saturday of every month from 3-6 pm in the beautiful gallery setting. The gallery offers complimentary wine, appetizers, and gourmet coffees and teas to complete this special afternoon which features some very dynamic live music performances. In addition, several of the gallery’s artists are present during the events to greet you and to offer insights to their creative works.

D Gallery is the realization of the vision of Daniel Gerken. Daniel has been creating his cross and heart sculptures for over 9 years, and is represented in many fine galleries in the western United States. His dream was to collaborate with artists whose works inspire thought; works that evoke emotion; works that entertain or bring a smile. With his latest endeavor of creating a gallery in Lake Arrowhead, California, where he has resided for the past 11 years, he is able to indulge in his passion for producing and showing his own art, while providing an attractive gallery venue for other talented artists. Uncle Jam: What is your background? Daniel Gerken: Growing up in South Dakota, I had very limited exposure to culture. The art I appreciated was that of the Wild West and Native American. The latter had the most affect on me with its primitive, simplistic beauty and its prolific use of icons. After completing my college left to right: Laura Janes, Allyce Silva, education, with a year spent at Daniel Gerken, and Deborah Lewis the University of Uppsala in Sweden, I toured Europe. Both the Scandinavian countries and the countries of Europe opened my eyes to a new world of culture, architecture and art, and planted a seed to be later expressed in my art. UJ: How did you get started making crosses? DG: You would assume I am a religious person since the focus of my art is crosses, but I am not. It’s not that I’m closed to embracing a spiritual belief, and I admire those who have such faith in their lives; but it just hasn’t happened for me. Choosing crosses for the basis of my sculpture is perhaps an


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UJ: Lake Arrowhead is a little bit out of the way for most Californians. What can be done to let people know how close it is to most of Southern California? DG: Lake Arrowhead is so close to the various counties in Southern California. It has such a different mountain alpine environment, that it is a shame more people don’t visit Lake Arrowhead as a destination. It is a beautiful place; a place of nature and serenity, so different than the urban environment in the cities. Regarding what can be done to promote the area, I just don’t know. The Lake Arrowhead Village management does a good job considering their resources, to advertise in many different venues. Hopefully, the presence of D Gallery will help raise the level of interest in the area by providing a more polished venue for local and Southern California artists, and the viewers who appreciate the striking works of these talented visionaries. UJ: People spend quite a bit going to a film or to dinner but seem to hesitate when it comes to buying art for a few hundred dollars. The film and dinner is for a very short time and the artwork can be enjoyed forever. What can be said for regular folks collecting art in this economy? DG: This last question I have no answer for. I’m going to leave that one for Phil Yeh to answer. He’s much more in tune and passionate about the subject. D Gallery • Lake Arrowhead Village • 28200 Hwy 189 Ste T210 • • 909-336-0067 f

Dick continued from page 14

“the Maitraya” and his return in June, I asked him to imagine the impossible. “I do that all the time. I’ve been doing it for the past half hour.” I asked him to imagine the impossible, that the Maitraya does not take over from Ronald Reagan, Daisy Duck, and other world leaders who would rather build bombs than feed the starving. I got a very eloquent reply: “Then I will personally overthrow the American and Russian governments, and you can put that in the interview. You can put Brezhnev and Reagan on notice that I am going to personally overthrow both of them, in this respect--I will do anything I can to bring down the fascist military regimes in the Warsaw Pact countries and in the west. I will do my damnedest with or without the Maitraya. “Because the ideals that the Maitraya expresses are my ideals and if there is no Maitraya, that doesn’t change the fact that they are my ideals and goals. I will pursue my goals of feeding the hungry anyway…If this is all I have, if nothing happens in May, I will go on working with the American Friends Service Committee, with other organizations like that. I will go on doing it. I will be very sad, very disappointed, and very angry, but I will take my anger out on the regimes that hold power now, not the Maitraya. It will be directed at Brezhnev and Reagan, and their ilk. I know who the enemy is. “All that I will have to face was faced by the early Christians when Christ did not return, as they expected him to. They had to face it then and this did not kill off Christ, and this will not kill off our ideals. Our ideals are the ideals of the Spanish Civil War on the Loyalist side, the ideas of Charles Steinmetz, the ideals of the Berrigan Brothers, the highest, most noble people in the Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church, and the Lutheran Church. We’ll go on anyway. “The messages from the Maitraya exist, 120 messages that I know of. They exist. Somebody wrote them…That somebody in those messages articulates the highest ideals, not just of me but of man. So those ideals are real…I utilize the term ‘Maitraya’ to that person or those persons who wrote those messages. If the Maitraya turns out to be the Maitraya, I’m satisfied. If there is no Maitraya, these messages were concocted by someone, and I’ll find him, ‘cause I’m going to Europe in April looking for him.” The Maitraya (Message 81): How can you be content with the modes in which you now live, when millions starve and die in squalor, when the rich man parades his wealth

Makana continued from page 32

exactly what the White House had in mind. Makana, a popular Hawaiian troubadour, was enlisted to sing and play his guitar in the background at a dinner Obama and other leaders attended Saturday night. His song of choice: a 45-minute montage of protest songs, all while wearing a shirt that read “Occupy with Aloha.” After the dinner, Makana said the diners did not react in a negative way to his message — and may have been too busy sampling the Hawaiian food to notice. Makana’s manager filmed the performance for the Yes Men, the activist group that regularly stages pranks on the media and government. Music has been a big part of the Occupy Wall Street protests, with famous musicians dropping in on the encampments around the country. But this is probably the first time the movement has brought its music to the president. Makana is considered one of the masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar. He has opened for Sting and Carlos Santana. We hope to have a full length profile on this thoughtful musician in an upcoming issue of Uncle Jam. To view the video go to YouTube and type in: We are the many-Makana f

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Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011

before the poor, when each man is his neighbor’s enemy, when no man trusts his brother? Must you live thus, my friends? For how long can you support this degradation? Phil never got to Europe. A promotional tour was scheduled for April, and Phil was planning to take time out and visit the Maitraya’s followers, in England and in Amsterdam. (These Tara Centers apparently have a branch in Hollywood, for those interested in seeking out his books of messages, the Biblical cadences of which appealed to Phil’s religious imagination.) Should you read this in May or June, and the Maitraya has not taken over the world on all frequencies, you may follow the lead of Ursula LeGuin who, after reading Valis, worried that Phil was spiraling into madness in Santa Ana, California. However, I still insist that Phil was the sanest man I’d ever known, and that it is those people not obsessed with the destruction of the ecosphere and the proliferation of nuclear weapons that are crazy. Some may question my publishing an account of Phil’s final incarnation as an angry, Old Testament prophet. In the last two years of his life, he had lost a great deal of weight., having been burly in the early and mid-seventies; he would sit in his squeaking arm chair, petting his cat Mr. Tubbs, eating little but yogurt and quiche, his eyes burning with creative and idealistic fire. Phil specifically wanted an account of what turned out to be his last interview published: “It is vital that the news be made public that Christ has returned, but it is also vital that it be done in such a way that people in no way whatsoever are swayed or compelled or urged to accept on the basis of any authority either assumed or real by the person who says it.” Christ may not be here, but Phil is gone. Of the 16 hours of tapes I’ve made with Phil, and the pages of notes I’ve collected on his writings published and unpublished, I have the material for a book, which I am writing. If anyone reading this knew Phil or has any material relating to his life and work, I’d appreciate them contacting me through this publication. Future installments of my talks with Philip K. Dick will appear in this paper. In one tape, he goes through and discusses each of his books; in another, he lucidly analyzes the roots of his empathetic visions, of which the beetle was only the first, and the Maitraya was only the last. Phil was an artist, and a martyr, and he paid for the love that he gave us. f

Makana plays before Obama & Friends--By Phil Yeh

“Ninety percent of everything is crap.” Theodore Sturgeon Science Fiction Writer

The first written reference to Ted Sturgeon’s great revelation appears in the March 1958 issue of Venture, where Sturgeon wrote: “I repeat Sturgeon’s Revelation, which was wrung out of me after twenty years of wearying defense of science fiction against attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition, and whose conclusion was that ninety percent of SF is crud. Using the same standards that categorize 90% of science fiction as trash, crud, or crap, it can be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. are crap. In other words, the claim (or fact) that 90% of science fiction is crap is ultimately uninformative, because science fiction conforms to the same trends of quality as all other art forms.” As this issue was going to press, another old friend, Kika Kane, turned me on to this amazing video on Facebook featuring a young Hawaiian musician called Makana. I had never heard of him, but my knowledge of music is basically stuck in the old days of The Beatles. When someone is really good and original, my friends generally know that they should alert me. 90% of all music, like most films, TV shows, and books (especially graphic novels) is really terrible in my humble opinion and just not worth my time. But this means there’s 10% of everything that is worth your time, although I am tempted to revise Sturgeon’s law for the 21st century and make it 1% because of the sheer amount of bad stuff cranked out these days. That still means that for every hack out there just turning out


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mind-numbing soulless work, there is one person who truly understands what it is to be an artist. Real artists dare to speak the truth. This is how I always judge work in the arts. There are very few artists who do this in the 21st century. We interviewed Sturgeon over thirty years ago and I had the pleasure of getting to know both him and one of his companions, Wina. As we try and make sense of the new “Occupy everything” movements and the growing sense of unrest in this world between the 1% and the rest of us, I believe that looking backwards into history can serve to guide us in the future. So when Kika shared with me this powerful video on YouTube featuring Makana and his song We Are The Many, I immediately thought back to Woody Guthrie and his honest protest songs. When I learned that Makana’s very moving and very direct song was going to be played at a dinner with President Obama, I could not believe what I was hearing! I knew that Makana had grown up in Hawaii, but to sing this song in front of the President was really unbelievable. Here is what The Washington Post’s Melissa Bell posted: “President Barack Obama is busy in his home state of Hawaii meeting with Pacific Rim leaders on matters of global security and world economy. Even though Obama decided to skip the practice of goofy costumes at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the leaders are still getting a healthy sampling of the Hawaiian culture. One such display, though, may not be continued on page 31

A Conversation with Alan Brennert Uncle Jam: Tell us about your books set in Hawaii Alan Brennert: Well, my love affair with Hawaii started when I was probably 8 years old. I read a comic book called “Dennis the Menace goes to Hawaii” which was one of those fat 25 cent holiday specials. This was actually the first comic book where they actually sent the artist and the writer on location to do research. I think Fred Toole and Al Wiseman were the writer and artist. It had these beautiful illustrations around Hawaii during the time of statehood. I am reading this in the back of my parents’ car as we’re tearing down the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey and I’m thinking “Boy, I’ve gotta get to Hawaii one of these days”. Ultimately I wound up moving to California in 1973 and got to Hawaii for the first time in 1980. I fell in love with it. I walked off the plane in the old days when you just walked down onto the tarmac. You could smell the scent of plumerias carried on the trade winds and I thought “I’m home”. I’ve been going back there at least once a year for the last 30 years but I didn’t actually start to think about writing anything set there until I did a pilot for NBC in 1997 which was supposed to be shot there…it didn’t get picked up. It made me start thinking about writing a novel set there and that it became Moloka’i. Moloka’i was a labor of love. It took me about 3 years of reading, researching and writing to finish the book. It’s become kind of a word of mouth best seller. UJ: Moloka’i has become a best seller? AB: A national best seller. It’s appeared on several national best seller lists. It came out initially in 2003 in hardcover. It was reprinted in paper in 2004 and that’s when the book clubs discovered it. It started to get picked up by book clubs and referred from one club to another. We started out with a very modest first printing in paperback of 5000 copies and now, 8 years later, it’s in its 21st printing with 330,000 copies in print. All through word of mouth…all from one reader to another. Previous to this I thought word of mouth was just a myth promulgated by authors with bigger publicity budgets than me. But it really exists. I followed it up with another book called Honolulu, which follows a Korean picture bride. It’s about a young woman from Korea who agrees to marry a man sight unseen in Hawaii in order to escape the very oppressive conditions that existed at that time for women in Korea. They were practically prisoners in their own homes. They tended the inner rooms; the men tended the outer rooms and the only time they ever left was to go to the stream to do the laundry. A lot of women jumped at the chance for a life of adventure and more freedom than they could have in Korea. They get to Hawaii and discover that the young affluent men they have been told they are going to be marrying are in fact plantation laborers and the photos they saw were 20 years old. So these are young girls; 18, 19, 20 years old who suddenly find themselves engaged to men in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and discover Hawaii is not the paradise that they were told. UJ: How did you research this? AB: I researched both books by going to Hawaii. There’s a lot of primary research that you can’t get anywhere but Hawaii. I went to The Hawaii State archives, the Bishop Museum Library and Archives, even just the Honolulu


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public library. I found extraordinary amounts of usable material just sitting looking at microfilm of old newspapers from the 1920’s and 1930’s. I found newspaper stories about Kalaupapa on microfilm that I hadn’t seen talked about in any book. So I actually enjoyed doing this. I’m kind of berserk when it comes to research. For Honolulu my main character walks out of the train station and looks across King Street in Hawaii in 1917. I was thinking to myself “What does she see?” and I couldn’t find any photo reference of King Street in 1917, so I went to the library and I printed every single page of the Honolulu City Directory for 1917…all 700 pages of it. I brought it back to Los Angeles and went through it. I highlighted with a yellow marker every street, every neighborhood; every business that I knew was going to be involved in the story of the book. And then I used that to construct a map so that when she walked out of that train station I knew that she was looking straight across the street and she saw a movie theater; a Japanese language movie theater and next to that a Japanese bath and down the street a Chinese apothecary, and farther up there was a Chinese restaurant. So I knew exactly where everything was. I couldn’t make all that up, but I kinda feel that’s the difference between writing a period piece and writing a historical. If you’re writing a historical novel you have an obligation to make it as accurate as you can. UJ: So is Honolulu also a best seller? AB: It has also done well. It’s sold about a third as many copies as Moloka’i but it’s only been out for a couple of years. It’s also been picked up by book clubs. UJ: Any chance of these things being made into film or TV? AB: Probably none at all. I knew that was going to be the case with Moloka’i going into it, because it’s about leprosy. It’s a tough sell to Hollywood, but the reality is that Molokai’s protagonist is a young Hawaiian woman and Honolulu’s is a young Korean woman. Neither of these books have protagonists who could be played by Kate Winslet or Sandra Bullock, so it kind of limits things. Plus I’m told that a lot of Hollywood isn’t that interested in historical stuff right now. UJ: They want superheroes. AB: Superheroes…exactly. You know I worked in Hollywood for over 25 years so I’m long past the point where I’m thrilled to see my name up on the screen and I know only too well how badly they can f—k up stories. I’m just happy that I have people who are reading these books and communicating with me. That’s the great thing about the Internet; you can actually hear from readers. UJ: Are you working on a new novel now? AB: I’m working on a new novel that actually only has one chapter set in Hawaii during WWII. The majority of it is set in my native New Jersey. It’s called Palisades Park. It’s about a working family of dreamers who own a food concession at the legendary Palisades Amusement Park, which was the subject of the Freddy Cannon song from 1962. It follows them from the

Great Depression through WWII and the Korean War up to the closing of the park in 1971. It’s a little lighter and funnier than the previous two books. It’s still got some historical weight to it, but it’s tending to be a little bit of a funnier book. UJ: So this could be something that could be adapted to the screen? AB: Yes, it has a family of white persons, so it’s much more commercial. UJ: Can you also talk a little bit about the early part of your career and how you started writing for TV? AB: I sold my first short story to a science fiction anthology, Infinity Five, when I was eighteen; fresh out of high school. I sold two more before attending the Clarion Writers Workshop at Michigan State University the following year (1973). That was a tremendously beneficial experience for me as I think it has been for most Clarion alumni throughout the years. I also forged several lifelong friendships there. After Clarion I transferred from my college in New Jersey to CSULB in Long Beach.  I was an English major, but the department (in the form of Eileen Lothmer, a wonderful professor who was my advisor) allowed me to construct my own specialty major, “Writing for the Media.”  I took courses in English, Theater, and Radio /TV, because I always knew I wanted to write for film and television someday.  Meanwhile, I supported myself through college by writing short stories for science fiction magazines and anthologies like Analog, Galaxy, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, et al, as well as through the generosity of Richard Kyle, who employed me at his bookstore for about two years (still the only honest job I’ve held!). After CSULB I attended UCLA Film School for a few quarters, until I sold my first television script—one of four I would wind up writing for The New Adventures of Wonder Woman.  (We’ve all got to start somewhere, right?)  My breakout opportunity came in 1981 when I wrote a script (based on a short story by my Clarion classmate Carter Scholz) for a short-lived anthology series called Darkroom...the show vanished quickly, but my script, to my astonishment, was nominated for a Writers Guild Award for Outstanding Teleplay of the Year, alongside scripts for blue-chip shows like

UJ: I have read Moloka’i and am part-way through Honolulu. I couldn’t stop thinking about Moloka’i after finishing the book. The history and setting was great, but I think it is mostly the characters who are very unforgettable and touching.  The TV shows you wrote for, such as L.A. Law, China Beach, and Simon & Simon also had very distinct characters.  Can you speak a little bit about characterization and its part in your writing? AB: I’ve always been attracted, as a reader and as a writer, to character, first and foremost.  It was the characters that I loved in comic books, in TV shows like Twilight Zone and Star Trek, and in books like Flowers for Algernon and Silas Marner and The Great Gatsby. As a hatchling writer being imprinted by these various sources, I knew that I if I could write a character as memorable as Charlie Gordon in Flowers for Algernon, I could die happy.  Haven’t done it yet, I think, but I’m still trying. One review of Honolulu said something along the lines of, “Character trumps all in this book,” and I loved that; it’s absolutely true.  Moloka’i and Honolulu were plotted loosely—I knew the beginning, middle, and end, the general trajectory of the protagonists’ lives and the history they would live through—but I also allowed the characters to diverge from the paths I had originally intended for them if their life choices began to seem out of character for them.  Few writers, I think, start a novel with a fullformed main character in mind; you have to write them a while, hear their voices, see how they interact with others, and really get to know them over time.  There’s a certain amount of improvisation that goes on when I’m writing a book, and that’s the great thing for me about writing them—I’m not restricted to telling a story in a 55 page teleplay, I have room to explore character.  And obviously I love exploring character. UJ: I met you at Richard Kyle’s wonderful book store in the mid 70’s... It goes to show that sometimes everything comes together at once. So many people were there. Jan Burke, of course, Tom Luth and so many others… AB: Greg Bear UJ: It’s uncanny when you think about it. It’s one bookstore and all these people... AB: It was a good group of people…a good place to congregate and hang out and talk.

Hill Street Blues. I didn’t win, but that led to my writing for Simon & Simon, which led to The Twilight Zone, which led to China Beach and L.A. Law.


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UJ: It was like a salon. I think of it as a place where you were looking for a book and having somebody named Richard screaming or saying “This is crap”. He’d be very forthcoming with his comments. AB: Oh yeah (laughter) Richard as Gertrude Stein…I never thought of that. UJ: The Richard Kyle years in Long Beach were a magical time. f

Hawaii: Another Trip to Paradise By Phil Yeh

In the last issue we spoke with two of Hawaii’s top cartoonists, Dave Thorne, who is the creator of Thorney’s Zoo and Jon Murakami, who created Calabash, two comic strips that run in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Dave is considered Hawaii’s Yoda among the cartooning community; inspiring and educating many students and professionals over the years. Jason S. Yadao of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin posted this update on Dave’s condition on the newspaper’s blog. “Much has happened since we last checked in with Dave Thorne, the cartoonist who draws the Thorney’s Zoo comic for our fair publication, on Thanksgiving Day. For those of you just joining us, a quick recap: Dave was hospitalized Nov. 8 for emergency surgery for a torn aorta and has been recovering ever since, also dealing with trouble breathing along the way. Since then, many notes of well-wishes from around the world have been posted at the Dave Thorne Get Well Page (note: must be signed in to Facebook to view). Many cartoons of elephants have been posted. Dave’s sons Mitchell and Randy flew in from California to see their dad. They joined their sister Kelly and their mom Lorraine. Here was his son Randy’s comment: Update: 12/4/11: Today has been an incredible day! Heard my father’s voice for the first time today. First time he has spoken in 3 weeks!!! And for a Thorne not to be able to talk, man that’s like torture! There is a small valve that keeps the air from his vocal cords, so most of the time he communicates by sign language, however today they loosened it so he could talk. His voice started out sounding like a frog then evolved into Minnie Mouse. The doc says that he will eventually get his old voice back, but it will take a little more time and effort, and he has to build up his stamina also. He was able to breathe unassisted also for about 3 hours and the PT had him sit up for the first time also, however he quickly got dizzy and had to lay back down…. baby steps. He looks great and last night he told us that after we had left the hospital, although he couldn’t sleep, he felt 100% better and was joking with the doctors and nurses….hmmm anyone surprised about that??? Again, a huge Mahalo Nui Loa to all of you out there sharing your prayers and positive thoughts. They are working! WE are witnessing a miracle before our eyes! Bliss, bliss, bliss! Thank you spirit! Aloha!” I wouldn’t normally print so much about an artist’s health but Dave really has a personal connection with so many artists, professionals, fans, and friends around the world. Along with Wally Amos, I credit Dave Thorne being a positive influence in my own life. In this issue we would like to talk about some other artists in Hawaii who are on the scene, as well as some of the tourist attractions. As the Godfather of the American Graphic Novel, I was invited to speak at the 2nd annual Hawaii Entertainment Expo Experience (HEXXP) in Honolulu in late September and early October. I spoke on the history of graphic novels and the power of creativity. My fiancée Linda Adams was with me for our second trip this year. We combined this trip with a mural event at the Windward Mall in Kaneohe. Our first few days were spent with my old friend Kevin Muranaka and his girlfriend Esmeralda DeLuna. The wonderful thing about having so many friends around the world is you never are at a loss for companions for a meal. I don’t often find too many good


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things to say about cell phones, texting, twitter, etc. but one good thing about Facebook is that it allows you to reach people around the world; which has been really great for our Cartoonists across America & the World tour. But like all these electronic devices in our lives it’s really good to limit social networking and make time for old fashioned things like traveling, gardening, taking walks, reading, and talking face to face with a friend. Linda and I were getting married after this trip to Hawaii in October (I am dyslexic

Aulani, the Disney resort and tend to do things backwards) and it was really wonderful to see all our friends in Hawaii a second time this year for this “honeymoon”. Kevin is an artist and writer and Esmeralda works for a bookstore. We stayed with them for a few nights and it was great being surrounded by wonderful books! We will profile Kevin’s work in a future issue. We had heard that Disney had opened up a new resort on Oahu, so we took a drive to Ko Olina to see it. The Disney Resort, Aulani, was in the opening week when we visited in September and I can see them building up this part of the island in years to come. The place has the feel of a Disney attraction and is a bit pricey, but I am sure that if you get a package deal it can be very affordable. The architecture of the main building was very nice, as well as

the landscaping outside. We even saw a few Disney characters! Next we drove around the island from Honolulu through Hanauma Bay,

cartooning from a “professional” cartoonist and marveled that someone could actually make a living in Hawaii as a cartoonist. All of us local cartoonists who were lucky enough to learn from Dave really are indebted to him; not only for what he taught us directly, but also for how he represented Hawaii and cartooning to the community and the world. He’s really the Goodwill Ambassador of Cartooning! I also remember when I was growing up how fortunate I was to be around at the time to join the House of Cartoons (Hawaii’s own version of CAPS) with such greats as Dave Thorne, Don Dougherty, Dennis Fujitake, Todd Kurosawa, and Gary Kato to name a few. That was a special time for cartooning in Hawaii! UJ: You studied cartooning. but obviously have a flair Artists L to R: Roy Chang; Michael Cannon; Kevin Muranaka, Carl Maeda; Phil Yeh; Jon J. for design. What’s your true passion? Murakami; Amy Tokuda; Jared Matsushige; Gary Kato; Sterling Kawahara; Devon Oishi. AL: Hmmmmmmm...that’s an interesting question. I’ve one of the great tourist spots for snorkeling on Oahu. I know from my own past adventures in Hawaii that the islands of Maui, Kauai, and the big island always loved of Hawaii all have magnificent sites of their own and far less people than drawing. I have books Oahu. While I have painted murals on these other islands and also enjoyed many the rich exotic beauty each had to offer, the great majority of my friends filled with little all live on Oahu. It should be said that although there obviously is a lot of drawings and cartoons, but development on this island, there is also some very nice scenery, too. Our mural painting event at the Windward Mall on the other side of I guess at one the island was a chance to really see the local people. Dave Thorne lives point in my on this side of the island and he came out, as well as Gary Kato, Michael life I needed Cannon, Jared Matsushige, Kevin Muranaka, Amy Tokuda, Roy Chang, to make a Jon J. Murakami, and Devin Oishi. The event was wonderful, as all our decision where mural events in Hawaii have been for the last 20+ years. There is so much I was going natural talent on these islands! Two of the artists who could not make it to to focus my the Windward Mall were my old friends Alan Low and Dennis Fujitake. I efforts to try to decided to profile Alan, Gary and Dennis in this piece. For the record, I have make a living. enjoyed verbally sparring with both Dennis and Alan over the years. They do A quick back not fit into the stereotypes of either Japanese or Chinese men, nor shy artists story: In my in general. They both have quick wits and are never afraid to speak up, at senior year in high school, I least where I am concerned! had signed up for a class called “Career Explorations.” This was a special Uncle Jam: Can you class that you had to actually apply for and not everyone was accepted. It please provide us with was a vocational type of class where they placed students into actual working a brief bio. situations in fields in which they had expressed interest. Remember, this was Alan Low: I was born the school that President Obama also graduated from, so you can imagine the and raised in Hawaii. I attended the same high school (Punahou) as President Barack Obama, but obviously one of them made a wiser career choice (I’m not saying who). I attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa where I received top honors as Design Student of the Year and in 1986, I achieved a BFA in Graphic Design. Upon graduating, I worked at the largest design firm in the state at the time. In 1992, I founded Synergy Design, an award-winning, multidisciplined graphic design studio, with two other partners. In 2002 I decided to finally branch out on my own as Alan Low Design. I currently sit on the Board of Directors of the Honolulu Chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design and regularly teach classes in design fundamentals at Pacific New Media, the Outreach College at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. My wife Gail and I have an eleven-year-old son, Brandon. UJ: When we spoke to Dave Thorne in the last issue, the Yoda of Hawaiian cartoonists, he mentioned that you were his student? Is this another “big fish” story?  AL: Oh, yes, I fondly remember taking Dave Thorne’s class at the University when I was still in middle school! I remember how excited I was to learn


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types of fields that most kids had requested: corporate law... heart surgery... nuclear engineering... governmental affairs... finance and banking... and then there was me: “cartooning.” Luckily, the school had a connection to a local film maker who also had ties to the only animation studio in Hawaii at the time: Farmhouse Films. They had just come into the islands and were trying to make a name for themselves doing animated films and shorts for Sesame Street. Believe it or not, they agreed to grant me an interview. On the day of the interview, I was surprised to see that another kid showed up, apparently also interviewing for an intern position. This kid had all these comic strips about fish that he had drawn and they were really good and really funny! I thought, “Oh no... There’s goes my shot.” Well, long story short, and for some unknown reason, they picked me! AND, the “Big Fish” moment of this story? That other kid turned out to be renowned story artist from Dreamworks fame, Todd Kurosawa!!! (And it appears that one of us made a wiser career choice, but I’m not saying who...) Years later, Todd and I still laugh about this series of events! It was also at Farmhouse Films where I met a nice Filipino artist who had come from the field of graphic design. I thought that was interesting, because I was almost opposite of my career path: I was just starting my studies in graphics and was obsessed with cartooning. Big Fish moment number two: That cartoonist turned out to be one of the greatest Disney animators of the next generation after the Nine Old Men: Ruben Aquino (who as may you know, animated such memorable characters as Maurice (Belle’s father in Beauty and the Beast), Ursula (the sea witch in Little Mermaid), Shang (Mulan) and Adult Simba (The Lion King)!!! I say “as you may know,” not because he’s from Filipino descent and all Filipinos in the arts should know each other, but because he’s well known in his own right. A couple of years later, after we had animated a few Sesame Street shorts and had done some preliminary work on some feature film stuff, Farmhouse Films decided that it was financially too hard to continue operations in Hawaii and decided to move back to Los Angeles. They asked me to come with them. That’s when I had to really make a decision. I had to decide to take a chance with animation or continue my studies in Graphic Design. Truth be told, I never thought I could draw as well as others and thought I’d best continue my studies at the University.

Design, or what used to be known as “Commercial Art” would be more viable than “Fine Art.” Having engineering in my blood (one of my brothers is an engineer and another is a computer programmer), I guess I also have a penchant for left brain reasoning. Graphic Design seems to combine both left brain thinking and right brain creativity. You might be surprised to know that many graphic designers can’t draw. That’s why they employ illustrators. I’m fortunate enough that I can draw fairly well and do my own illustrations (or well enough to communicate with other illustrators). I guess most of my cartooning these days would take the form of “humorous illustration.” Actually, my son leans towards more left brain thinking. He’s less interested in drawing cartoons and the fine arts and more interested in drawing conclusions to math problems or programming and the computer arts. At my advanced age, having the benefit of looking back, I’d encourage him to pursue what interests him; to discover where his passions lie. I’ve found that the most successful people are those that have really excelled at what they’re passionate about. The engineering blood in me says, “And make sure you can make a living at it.” UJ: What are your future plans? AL: My future plans? Well, in the future, I’d really like to find the time to take a nap. Next, I contacted my old friend Dennis Fujitake who has had quite a career in comics and illustration. I went to the Internet to get some of his past credits. Fujitake was a contributor to Star-Studded Comics of the Texas

UJ: I have known many cartoonists but few have the natural sense of humor that you share so easily with the world, or maybe it’s just when I am around. Most cartoonists tend to be very shy in public. Have you considered a career in stand-up comedy? AL: Hahaha... no, although it’s widely known that stand-up comedians suffer from some form of mental disorder so I guess I might be qualified in that regard. I must say, though, that over the years, I guess I have taught numerous workshops and emceed my fair share of weddings and events.  UJ: I have a Chinese father from the old country and was never encouraged to go into the arts. What was your upbringing like, and would you encourage your son in this field? Many parents find the arts to be very risky careers. AL: Yes, you and I share some of the same upbringings, although my parents are 3rd generation Chinese in Hawaii so our “old country” might be a sugar plantation in the fields of Hawaii. While my parents never discouraged me from going into the arts, I guess that since my father and his father before him were successful engineers, there was an inherent leaning towards the more “practical” professions. I guess that’s why I figured that Graphic


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Trio (1968-72) and several fanzines throughout the 1970s. He contributed to Skywald horror titles. In the 1980s, he began working for Fantagraphics and drew Dalgoda, Dinosaurs of Summer, Children of the Night Tide, Sea Dragon and Waddlewalk. He is also known for his work on Keith Laumer’s Retief series at Mad Dog Publishing. In the 1990s he worked on Elfquest, among others, for Warp Graphics.

I also know of his work on a number of children’s books and t-shirt designs; but it was his excellent comic book work on Dalgoda, written by Jan Strnad, that stands out in my mind. Here is what he told me when I asked him what he was up to these days.

“Sorry but there is no website about me. Right now I’m mostly doing local freelance art jobs like t-shirt designs for the Custom Co. and Hawaiian Sun Products. I’m also a regular artist for Hawaii Parent Magazine, doing illustrations for their editorial articles. Once in a while someone will email me about commissioning an illustration for some comic book character/ characters they’re interested in. I’m supposed to do one on the Suicide Squad for a client soon. Recent accomplishments outside of artwork: I replaced all the capacitors on my 7-year-old iMac’s power supply and logic board. The


power supply had gone bad for a second time and I found a website that recommended replacing the capacitors as a do-ityourself remedy. Six days of stressed-out labor and one burned calf (dropped a hot soldering iron on it) resulted in one successful repair of my iMac, which is back to humming merrily along. This is not a job for the faint of heart.” Since Gary Kato was one of the guest artists at the Windward Mall, we actually had a chance to see some of his paintings upstairs in Gallery Haiku, which handles art by local Hawaiian artists. They are Gary Kato really vibrant and show a clear command of the brush. Kato started painting while at the University of Hawaii until he graduated in 1971. He resumed painting about 1995. Kato grew up with his friend Fujitake and has illustrated many comic books over the years, among them Mr. Jigsaw written by Ron Fortier. Fortier and Kato worked on a number of projects, including a graphic novel sequel to Peter Pan and Days of the Dragon, which will be reissued on a “printon-demand” basis next year. Kato also wrote and illustrated a graphic novel called Memories of Paradise. He was the assistant to my old friend Terry Beatty, who along with writer Max Alan Collins created Ms. Tree, the longest running private eye series in American comic books. Kato also worked on Destroyer Duck, Thunder Bunny and collaborated with Terry Beatty and Wendy and Richard Pini on Elfquest Bedtime Stories, which is an adaptation of classic fairy tales featuring the Elfquest characters as children. A few days after our mural painting event, we went to HEXXP at the

Steampunk artist Friston Hookana

Origami Master Won Park

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Blaisdell Center Galleria, where a variety of musicians and artists, including Steampunk artisans, were displaying their work. We will explore this new area of pop culture in the next issue of Uncle Jam as well as the Cartoon Jam at the Kahala Mall. We will also give our readers a preview of Jon J. Murakami’s and my new graphic novel featuring The Dragons of Hawaii. Clearly, there is a vibrant art scene on Oahu! f

Editorial continued from page 3

Gregg Rickman; and a brand new interview by Todd Jenkins with author Tim Powers, whose book On Stranger Tides had an influence on the Disney Pirates of the Caribbean films. Tim and I have known each other for decades and he recently reminded me that we first met back in Richard Kyle’s legendary bookstore in Long Beach. When I moved to the Inland Empire a few years ago, I ran into Tim at a writer’s event in the Los Angeles area. I was doing a lot of work with the San Bernardino City Library and asked him if he would ever consider doing an event there. He smiled and said that he had moved to Muscoy (an area of the city) many years ago, which again shows me how small this world is! Tim was also a good friend of Phil Dick as you’ll see in Jenkins’s piece. Alan Brennert, the author of Moloka’i and Honolulu actually worked at Richard Kyle’s store before his great career as a TV writer and novelist, and we spoke to him for this issue, as well as covering Hawaii for a second time. When we cover a place, we generally talk about the artists and writers in that place. On a personal note, we could not produce this magazine without our advertisers and loyal staff. My wife Linda continues to sell the ads and we really could use some help. Linda Puetz has taken over as the main art director and we are so grateful for her help and to all the writers and artists around the world. I have always championed independent artists and local small businesses which make the world a more interesting place. The recent protests all over the world against big corporations and corrupt governments has really made me think about the 1% and us, the 99%. If we, the masses, are serious about really doing something real and long-term to change the way things are, then we have to take real responsibility about the companies we support with our money. If a big company is honest and their practices are fair, by all means support them; but if they are not, and many are not, then why not spend your dollars with local businesses in your own community or from independent artists online? And, instead of buying all the mass-produced nonsense, why not think about buying real artwork from an independent artist or supporting artists in any field, from the performing arts to the visual arts. Consider buying an original work of art that may cost what a new pair of tennis shoes at the mall costs, but will give you decades of enjoyment and might even rise in value in time. Instead of only buying mass-produced music, consider the

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Hi guys, Thanks for getting me the 36th anniversary issue. Just finished reading the Griffin article, which I read back in the day, and rediscovered when we were mounting the Griffin show.  As I re-read, it’s amazing how timeless and packed full of good information it is. Very inspiring.  Sad, as Rick talks about his ambitious future plans. Love the new intro Phil wrote.  We should have reprinted the article in the catalogue.... Thanks, Greg Escalante

f Dear Uncle Jam, I want to take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge the staff at UNCLE JAM Magazine on the occasion of their 100th Issue. What a milestone! Did “Winged Tiger” creator Phil Yeh know back in 1973 what a high price the early tabloid versions of this literary gem would fetch today online? Probably not. But he did know quality. And he knew he had a mission...

Sergio Aragones, creator of Groo the Wanderer and MAD magazine cartoonist, presents a “Sergio” award to legendary Al Jaffee at the 2011 Comic Arts Professional Society banquet in Los Angeles. Jaffee both wrote and illustrated for MAD. He is the creator of the MAD fold-in. music made by so many struggling artists who are not featured on some TV talent show or, even worse, a reality show. Consider cutting down on TV, period, and you will find yourself with so much more time! Years ago, Rosa Parks refused a seat at the back of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama and the Montgomery Bus Boycott was launched by the people who were sick and tired of America’s racist policies. This boycott didn’t cave in to the police and the authorities. Led by a young Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy and others for over one year, they organized their own car pools and other alternate forms of transportation until the official racist policy was overturned by the courts. I should note that this was a nonviolent protest which is so important to me. Perhaps when all of us start to really think about where our money goes, we will stop supporting some of these big businesses who ruin the lives of so many of us in order to save a few dollars. As the Hawaiian musician Makana recently sang We Are The Many and they are the few.---Phil Yeh f

Inspired by cookie king Wally “Famous” Amos to focus light on the growing problem of illiteracy, he founded Cartoonists Across America in 1985. I’m not sure when he met Linda Adams, but what a team they make! She’s always been a champion of literacy in the “Inland Empire” region of Southern California. Together, they now take their message around the world. What message? Reading, Writing and Artistic CREATION is much better than Gang Violence and DESTRUCTION! In their travels, Phil & Linda have made many friends along the way. Famous friends like Charles Schulz, Ray Bradbury, Sergio Aragones, Barbara Bush and not-so famous ones. Like me! I first met them about 6 years ago, when I was invited to see Ray Bradbury speak at San Bernardino’s Feldheym Library. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of assisting Cartoonists Across America create several amazing murals. And because Phil gets local kids involved, the murals instill a sense of pride and accomplishment in them. And these murals are NEVER “tagged”. I’m so grateful to have interviewed the surviving cast members of the classic “BATMAN” series for UNCLE JAM #97. A treat for this bat-fan!   I should also mention my other friends at UNCLE JAM and Cartoonists Across America. Folks like Matt Lorentz, Lieve Jerger, David Brown, R.C. Williams and Frank Mangione, to name just a few. Their immense talents are eclipsed only by their great continued on page 24


Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011


Uncle Jam: What is your background in art? Dean Yeagle: I’ve worked mostly in animation, but I’ve done something in most areas of cartooning - children’s books, games, CD ROMS, the Internet, comic books, advertising, magazine and book illustration, and for the past ten years, gag cartoons for Playboy magazine.

UJ: Did you go into animation directly from a 2-D illustration background? DY: No, just the opposite. I started in animation by getting a summer job at a small animation studio in Philadelphia, where I lived and was going to art school.  It was small enough that I was able to do a bit of everything - design, animation, backgrounds, ink and paint, layout, was like an apprenticeship, and a very good place to start.  A great atmosphere, too; great people to work with.  So I quit art school after that first year and stayed to learn the business.  I stayed there until the economy (yes, there were bad economic times in the 60’s, too) forced layoffs and I went to another small company that was mostly live action  film.  They needed an animator for a TV spot about smog...and I basically did the entire thing myself, from storyboards through animation.  Then I was about to be drafted (Vietnam era), so I joined the Navy and spent some time floating about the Mediterranean on a destroyer.  We didn’t actually have to destroy anything, fortunately. UJ: Do you have a background drawing the human figure? And do you think this is important for young artists? DY: Yes, it’s very important.  It’s the basis for any sort of illustration, cartooning or animation, even if you mostly draw animals.  But I didn’t have much of a background in it, having left art school after just a year.  Most of the cartoon characters I designed and animated over the years were not people, or at least not realistic ones.  The Cookie Crisp commercials that I produced with my own company, for instance...very cartoony humans.  A lot of fun to animate, but only the most basic connection to human anatomy.  So when I started drawing for Playboy, I started going to figure drawing sessions again.  I now go once or twice a week, and I find there’s always something to learn. UJ: What do you think of today’s artists and do you use the new technology in your work? DY: Well, of course there are some wonderful artists out there.  I’ve met a lot of them at comic conventions; a good place to find artists you weren’t aware of before.  I do find that there are styles in comic books and TV animation that bury individuality, though.  Many comic books are wonderfully drawn, but you can’t tell who did them because the styles are so alike.  The ones who are different are naturally the ones who stand out, and that’s what I’d recommend to every aspiring artist:  Develop your own style.  As for technology, it’s a tool like any other, and I use Photoshop for my Playboy cartoons and most of my books.  I was never a painter, but when I found Photoshop it opened up a new world of color and possibility to me.  For original pieces for gallery sales, of course, I don’t use digital. UJ: When did you start to draw for Playboy? DY: I started with Playboy in 2000, when I received a poster from them that was sent to all the animation studios in the US, soliciting entries for an animation contest.  You could win $25,000 and your animation would be shown on the Playboy website.  But it’s very costly and time-consuming to do animation, so I thought I’d just do a couple of gag cartoons, like they have in the magazine.  Even though it wouldn’t be what they were looking for, they’d at least see my work.  Otherwise it was very hard to get your work seen by them.  I sent the cartoons to them, and I got a call from the cartoon editor, Michelle Urry, who asked me “Where have you been?”  I’ve worked for them ever since. Very nice people to work for.


Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011

UJ: I know that Playboy gives your work wide exposure but do you have other outlets as well? DY: Yes, but as far as exposure is concerned, Playboy is where it started; because after years in animation, I finally got to SIGN something.  That got my name out there, and very quickly, too.  I now publish my own books, and with the Internet, my work is seen all over the world.  I can’t stress enough the importance of the Internet in that respect.  There are about 300,000 hits when you Google my name and websites in China, Israel, France, Italy, and Russia... all over...feature my work.  Lots of customers are out there.  I’ve had books published in France, and there are three galleries in Paris that carry my work. UJ: Is Mandy run in all the editions that Playboy produces? DY: Actually Mandy is not in Playboy at all.  Because she’s my own copyrighted character, she can’t appear in the gag cartoons.  There was a proto-Mandy in one of those cartoons, though - different eye and ribbon color, slightly different hair; but that was really the start of Mandy as she is today.  I pulled her out of that cartoon and changed her a bit for an online workshop and the rest, as they say, is HERstory. UJ: Can you tell us about how your work has been received in Europe and which countries seem to be the biggest fans? DY: Well, as I’ve said, I have galleries in Paris that carry my work Galerie Arludik gave my first one-man show there.  I’m working on new pieces for a show at Galerie Daniel Maghen, and Bernard Mahé featured my work in his Galerie 9 Art.  That first show was in conjunction with the publication of the first edition of a book of my work, MÉLANGE, by

for Attakus; the show at the Paris gallery; a lot of commissions; some possible TV animation; the Dark Horse comic; and of course more Playboy cartoons.  And I want to continue to carve out a lot of time for our granddaughter Lily (6 yrs old) as well.  She can draw Mickey Mouse like he could step off the page.f

Akileos Publishing in Paris. I’ve been invited to France and Belgium for book signings as well, and to comic conventions such as Angouleme and St. Malo there. Comix Buro/Attakus has put my work in one of their series of sketchbooks and they’ve produced two sculptures of my characters.  So France and Belgium are by far the countries that seem to like my work the most.  But I get orders for my books from everywhere, so it may be safe to say that there are at least a couple of people in every country who know my work.  Australia, England, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Spain, Russia, China, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Singapore, Latvia, Indonesia, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Italy, South Africa...but it’s France and Belgium that seem to be the biggest fans of cartoon art in general, not just mine. UJ: I know your work has been made into sculptures in Europe; any other licensing plans? DY: The first Mandy  sculpture was done  by Electric Tiki here in the US, and they recently released another, MANDY’S BUST.  Attakus in France has done another of my characters, ‘Suzette’, and they have a Mandy coming out in December; another sculptor here in the US is working on one, too.  I did have a licensing deal with a Russian company for a line of coffee to be called Mandy ‘Really Blonde Coffee’, believe it or not.  But that seems to have fallen through.  And I’ve licensed several images of her to a company that produces ‘skins’ for guitars and X-box and IPhones and even motorcycles.  I’ll be doing a Mandy comic book story for a Dark Horse Anthology, and plans are in the works for some animation that I can’t talk about yet.  Every so often someone comes up with an idea. I turn some down, and others fall though, so we’ll see what happens next. UJ: Can you tell us about your next trip to Europe? DY: The Galerie Daniel Maghen show in Paris, but that depends on when I get enough pieces done; I’ve been invited to Ghent, Belgium for a comic convention next year, and there may be a possibility of Amsterdam. UJ: Does your wife help you with the business? DY: Yes indeed - Barbara is indispensable at the comic conventions.  She’s an artist herself - a painter, and she’s done children’s illustrations for books and magazines.  She’s able to talk to people while they’re waiting in line and she’s very popular with the fans.  Some come mainly to talk to her, I think.  It’s impossible to do those shows with just one person.  In fact, at San Diego we have help from our daughters in-law, who help us at our booth too.  And of course Barbara loves the trips to Europe! UJ: What are your plans for the future? DY: I have a new book to get done for San Diego next year; a new sketchbook


Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011


Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011

Jeffrey Catherine Jones By Phil Yeh

Last issue, we featured a notice in my editorial on the passing of Jeffrey Catherine Jones on May 18, 2011, along with a photo of a tribute mural done by James O’Barr and Mark Bode. Bode’s dad Vaughn was a good friend of JCJ. She was probably most known to my generation for her work in the National Lampoon of the 1970s; but to a whole group of us comic book artists and fans, we knew her as part of The Studio with Bernie Wrightson, Michael Kaluta, and Barry Windsor-Smith. Another audience knew her for being a great illustrative painter who captured nuance and feelings like few artists. Frank Frazetta, who is legendary as a fantasy artist, called Jones “the greatest living painter”. You will be hearing a lot more about this artist’s work when the documentary film by Maria Cabardo is completed. Cabardo was at the San Diego Comic-Con last summer on a panel generating support for this worthy project, along with artists Bill Sienkiewicz (Elektra: Assassin), Mark Bode (Cobalt 60), Louise Simonson (Superman, X-Factor), Rick Berry (Sparrow #6, Double Memory), Robert Wiener (Donald M. Grant Publisher), George Pratt (Batman: Harvest Breed), and Henry Mayo (Ghostbusters, Dune). The documentary feature film is called Better Things: The Life and Choices of Jeffrey Catherine Jones. Using interviews with Jones and a wide range of family, friends and colleagues, the film explores the late artist’s fascinating, challenging life and unique journey through the worlds of comics, illustration, and fine art. Check out for more information. Her daughter Julianna was kind enough to send me a few of her favorite images for this piece. I regret that I never met Jones, but have long admired her work. f


Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011

Artwork by Jeffrey Catherine Jones Photo of Maria Cabardo (seated on the left) and Jeffrey Catherine Jones(seated on the right)

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Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011


Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011


Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011

Cogels-Osylei - Phil Yeh Unframed 12” x 16” giclée print. Limited Edition of 200. Signed & numbered by the artist, $200 each. Shipped flat. Cogels-Osylei is an art nouveau section of Antwerp, Belgium Yeh’s original watercolors are on display at The “D” Gallery in beautiful Lake Arrowhead Village, 2800 Highway 189, Suite T200, Lake Arrowhead, CA 92352 • (909) 336-0067. Prints are available at the gallery or online at Photo Left: Daniel Gerken owner/artist and Phil Yeh, artist.


Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011


Uncle Jam Quarterly, Volume 38, #100 Winter 2011

Uncle Jam 100  

Magazine about health, books, the arts, and travel. Est. 1973. Publisher Phil Yeh. Eastwind Studios. Current issue #100 features exclusive i...

Uncle Jam 100  

Magazine about health, books, the arts, and travel. Est. 1973. Publisher Phil Yeh. Eastwind Studios. Current issue #100 features exclusive i...