left to right: Johhny Ryan, Jaime Hernandez, Ron Regé Jr, Jordan Crane, Sammy Harkham, Frank Santoro
Back in August of last year, my friend Sebastian Demain sent me an email that said he was opening a gallery in Los Angeles. He and his business partner Ethan had rented a multi-use space where they could have art shows, performances, happenings, whatever. It’s a long corridor of a space in a basement – perfect for a gallery.
So I was lucky enough to be invited to have a show there. Sebastian asked if I had any paintings that looked like my comic Chimera. He said he liked my “classical” style. The inaugural show of the gallery was a Lee “Scratch” Perry painting exhibition in November and then there was a Nazi Knife group show in December. I was to be the third show. Felt like good company.
Dem Passwords, the name of the gallery is derived from a Lee Perry prose poem (a 3000 page Word document) where Lee writes about “dem passwords” one needs to know to get into places of power – of Black power. It’s pretty heavy and reflects the gallery’s many faces. CF played a show there. Coppertone. Pink Dollaz. It’s already become quite a scene. I mean Jerry Heller was at my opening so that should give you an idea of how strikingly L.A. this spot is. But more on that later. Lemme get back to my story. (more…)
Jaime Hernandez, Johnny Ryan, Sammy Harkham: Three men who know some shit about comics.
Barbara "Willy" Mendes, Sharon Rudahl and John Thompson bask in the adulation.
By now the legend of the Art in Time L.A. event at Cinefamily has probably not reached you. Basically, thanks to Cinefamily and Sammy Harkham, I gathered a pantheon of great cartoonists under one roof for an early evening gab fest and book signing. Johnny Ryan interviewed Lawrence (Real Deal) Hubbard; I interviewed John Thompson, Sharon Rudahl and Barbara “Willy” Mendes, and Jaime Hernandez screened the fabulous A Letter to Three Wives, after which Sammy briefly interviewed him. Books were signed, beer was consumed, and after all that I ate an enormous corned beef sandwich at Cantor’s. But! It was not without its moments, best of which was a fairly intense exchange between Hubbard and Mendes. Anyhow, lucky for you, dear readers, I recorded the whole thing the first two panels in a single take. There’s a brief dead zone between the Hubbard/Ryan panel and the Art in Time panel, but let it roll. It’s worth it. The recording picks up with Johnny introducing Lawrence. Enjoy.
This Sunday I’m having an afternoon book launch for Art in Time, featuring conversations with both contributing and like-minded cartoonists. We will be covering everything from Real Deal to Illuminations to Love and Rockets. Come on down — I promise a very unusual event.
Sunday, May 30
5 pm – 9 pm
611 N Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, 90036
Adventurous Cartoonists & Far-Out Comics
In celebration of his new comic anthology Art in Time: Unknown Comic Books Adventures, 1940-1980, art director/editor Dan Nadel will present an afternoon of book signings and conversations with notable cartoonists about the impact of adventure comics on popular culture. First, Dan will begin with an overview of adventure comics — from crime to cavemen, and back again! Next up, “Angry Youth”/”Prison Pit” author (and Cinefamily cover artist) Johnny Ryan interviews Lawrence Hubbard, co-creator of the raw ‘n riotous comic series “Real Deal”, set against the backdrop of a crime-ridden South Central. Later, join underground greats Sharon Rudahl, John Thompson and Barbara (Willy) Mendes in a panel discussion on their work, and on the milieu of 1960s subversive comics! Wrapping up the show is “Love And Rockets” co-creator Jaime Hernandez presenting a screening of the 1949 Joseph L. Mankiewicz classic A Letter To Three Wives, followed by a discussion with Jaime on the film, moderated by cartoonist Sammy Harkham.
Longtime readers of Comics Comics know that this is a labor of love — and it will continue to be, at least until we figure out how to “monetize” critical discussion of Harry Lucey and old issues of ROM Spaceknight. Once we get that settled, it will only be a matter of time until we are rolling in dough, Scrooge McDuck-style.
Currently, though, we are still somehow losing money, and it’s gotten to the point where we need to try and offset some of our costs. For lack of a better idea (and enough traffic to inspire advertisers!), we are launching a PBS-style one-week pledge drive. Nothing big and nothing too obnoxious, we hope, just a quick, deep, searching grab at our readers’ cash while everyone’s flush with springtime-inspired resolutions to give to charity. We are a good cause, more or less.
We have many delightful ways for you to GIVE US YOUR MONEY, all of which allow you, the kind reader, to receive something in return.
1) Comics Comics contributors and pals have donated artwork (see below!).
All of these items are or will be available at PictureBox’s eBay store, which will be updated from now through Thursday the 27th.
2) Johnny Ryan has very generously offered to donate his drawing services to the cause. Until May 27th, for a mere $100, Johnny will draw an 8 x 10 portrait of you, the Comics Comics reader (or person of your choice), being “erotically violated.” This seems like the perfect gift for any occasion. Dedicated readers choosing this option should first order this “item” via PayPal. Send $100 to orders (at) pictureboxinc (dot) com and include your address and a message. Please also send a photograph to the same email address. Mr. Ryan will then get to work. Allow at least 60 days before delivery.
3) You can purchase “variety packs” of PictureBox books at a crazy good discount. These will also be available at the PictureBox eBay store.
4) If for some reason you’d like to support us, but don’t feel like buying anything in particular on offer, you can tip us any amount you like via the PayPal button below.
Thanks for listening in any case, and we apologize for taking up your time with something like this. We don’t plan on making this a habit, or even something that we will repeat. We just want to keep this dog-and-pony show running for a while longer. Thanks again.
As we wait for Dan’s promised post on Spiegelman and Griffith’s great Arcade anthologies, I thought I’d put up this classic Robert Crumb cover from Arcade 3. I’d forgotten that Johnny Ryan wasn’t the first cartoonist to tackle parody the falling-leaf-as-profound-symbol thing.
Of course, I doubt Crumb was the first, either, but that’s not important when I have an opportunity to publicly goad Dan into posting.
And here’s a brief bit from San Diego. I made it home in one piece, a bit worse for wear. Friends Eric Reynolds and Tom Devlin did their best to council me with sage-like wisdom but Comicon beat me bloody. The best part was really just hanging out with friends…. Anyhow, here are some images.
Tom tries to be funny. Weissman and Ryan oblige.
Special sidewise image! I accepted Ogden Whitney’s Hall of Fame award at the Eisner Award ceremony. And they let me keep it! Haw! As Johnny Ryan said, “what does it mean if the inductee is a better cartoonist than the guy who the award is named for?” Good question, Johnny! The Eisner Awards remain the best reason not to take comics seriously as an art form (well, that and the Masters of American Comics exhibition!). Tom looks at it enviously after a furious night of losing to Gumby, Sandman (I lost to Sandman, too!) and other stuff waaaaaay better than the Moomins and Tatsumi. Oh yes.
Matthew Thurber, Marc Bell and Jon Vermilyea go Bats.