Finding a cheap book of H.R. Giger’s work is near impossible, most are out of print and will clean out your wallet in no time. I mean, its easy to understand, the guy is a dark genius whose mind still inspires Hollywood to this day , he did work for various movies, chief among them, the “Alien” movies and won a Oscar for the first “Alien” movie. But this book isn’t just strictly an art book, in between the pieces of his darkly erotic art is his own story in his own words.
His art was mainly a hybrid of living things connected to machines, darkly cold and hellish. One can see the light film that lays over all his creations, like a embryonic sack, the man was a master of the air brush, later pastels, markers and ink you’ll get some stories in this book of what he was inspired by. Giger was gonna do design work for Alejandro Jodorowsky’s version of “Dune”, there is a cool documentary on that Jodorowsky “Dune” movie that never was that was going to feature Salvador Dali on a giant toilet throne, Orson Welles as the Baron flying around, and a whole planet designed by Giger with music by Pink Floyd and French progressive rock band Magma (who Giger did album art for) which didn’t pan out, Lynch ended up doing “Dune”, Giger had always wanted to work with Lynch which never happened, Giger always said that Lynch’s “Eraserhead” was closer to what a Giger film would look like than any of the movies he worked on or designed.
Timothy Leary writes the forward for the book, not only is there Giger’s art, there is pictures and news clippings throughout the book. Granted this is a book that only goes up to the man’s career, mid 1980’s, the stories start from Giger’s straitlaced childhood in Switzerland, to his turbulent teens and successful adulthood, you’ll see a somewhat normal guy whose art defies what you see on the surface. Giger is a legend, he has designed some kick ass album work for Celtic Frost, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and the Dead Kennedys, his art got the Dead Kennedys an obscenity charge back in the day. This book is relatively cheap compared to a lot of the other Giger books out there. To dive into the dark world that is Giger go here: https://www.amazon.com/HR-GIGER-ARh-H-Giger/dp/382289642X
In the late 1990’s I had just graduated high school and I was visiting my parents in Los Angeles, I was in a used bookstore but I forgot which one. This bookstore was a bookstore for weirdos, people like me and you. Having a little money I had to make up my mind between a bunch of cool books, underground comics, magazines and zines, I was sweating. This was before the internet was widespread and nobody had a smartphone and here I was sweating my late teen nuts off. On one hand I had a book of nudes hot chicks with piercings in different place, the title of the book escapes me now but I was old enough to buy it, then there was the current issue of “Blab”, a book on unusual fetishes that had me in stitches laughing, the first mention I’d ever seen of “Furries” and “An Ode to Joy” by Frank Kozik. After awhile I had it narrowed down to the nude pierced chicks and “An Ode to Joy”. I knew if I didn’t choose soon my mom was gonna call the police thinking I’d been murdered and dumped somewhere in the Los Angeles River and a scene would be made, I didn’t want a scene to be made. “An Ode to Joy” popped out at me, a insane, psychedelic, nightmarish cartoon brew of retro pop culture screwed, slewed, brewed and tattooed, on the other hand I had forgotten my Penthouses at my apartment in upper Northern California, and being a young guy I had blue balls and a can of Vaseline. My dick won out, soon, however that pierced chick book got lost, I’ve been through two house fires, three crazy ex girlfriends who destroyed my stuff and numerous moves, in between those incidents it was lost but all through the years, “An Ode to Joy” stuck in my head like a icky, sticky pop song, except this is one song I wanted to hear. Years ago I finally got a copy and lost that copy, then I bought another one, for pierced chicks I can just go to Pornhub now.
I lived through the brunt of the “alternative movement” of the 1990’s, the “I don’t give a fuck, everything sucks” Generation X coming of age where a lot of cool music, art and other things got spawned. Us Gen Xer’s were raised on pop culture, some of us without the aid of church and religion made cartoons, b movies, underground music, old TV shows etc. the religion and it was later satirized. I can’t think of a bigger embodiment of that than the work of Frank Kozik, who was owner of Man’s Ruin Records, Frank actually started out doing poster art and other work as an artist in San Francisco. Man’s Ruin released mainly Alternative Stoner rock/metal and punk acts, Frank illustrated most, if not all of the covers for the bands on his label not to mention their posters. He also did posters for bands that went on to become big, Nirvana, Green Day, Soundgarden etc.
The book is hardbound and the posters are reproduced with eye piercing color on slick paper, in this book you’ll get cute animals with knives and axes through their heads, a drunk Yogi Bear, 1950’s children’s books where the kids are cannibals, the Japanese army cheering over the remains of the Statue of Liberty and other mind twisting, nut tweaking images. “Man’s Ruin” has released some of favorite bands, chief among them being “The Fuckemos”.
Frank’s got two more books I’d like to get my greasy paws on “Man’s Ruin: Posters and Art” and “Desperate Measures”. Frank’s work also appealed to me being raised on various cartoons where animorphic animals would blow the shit out of each other, except in Frank’s world you get to see the blood, there is no shaking off of the bomb going off, you see the bloody pieces in close up, ridiculous detail. Any retro pop culture aficionado will be able to pick up on different pieces he satirizes and he mixes different stuff in his art.
As I’ve mentioned before you’ll see posters for bands who are famous, yet to be famous or only bands that you and couple of friends know. Sometimes Frank will chime in with an anecdote of how he got the idea for the poster or some nonsense that isn’t even related to the piece in question. Frank keeps you on your feet, the guy has a twisted sense of humor.
So if you want a little taste of 1990’s alternative culture, visual style, this book is a good place to start, there is copies out there that are within your reach money wise but that might change so go snap them up while you can.
“Horrorgasmo: Psychotic Art For New Mutants” could only be vomited forth from the minds of Italians. The same nation that gave us Fulci, Bava and Argento also gave us this “art book” in limited quantities and the reason why I put quotation marks around art book is because I doubt the four people contained in this book, as well as the editor, want their names associated with the art scene of the late 1990’s to early 2000’s as full of itself as it was.
Limited to 999 copies (I have copy 944) you can tell a lot of this stuff was inspired by the great Charles Burns. Alessandro Papa had a comics shop in Italy called “Mondo Bizzarro” and he seems to be the one that put this volume together, he said in 1997 that Stefano Zattera, one of the artists in the book, came into drop off some zines he had put together, Papa said he thumbed through them and was blown away and in his words the zine was packed with “Posters of incredibly strange imaginary B movies, demented strips, “sick” and ultra extreme cartoons, all drawn with great technical ability in classic comic style. It was as if some ageing maestro of the American pop era had sold their soul to the devil.”
In another one of the zines that Papa leafed through was the art of Dast whose work is also in the book and was very impressed and Dast ended up having Zattera design the cover of his own Healter Skelter magazine. A year later Papa met Dast and Zattera at their “Horrorgasm” exhibition consisting of the aforementioned artists, Spiderjack and the veteran Italian cartoonist Gianmaria Liani. That is when Papa decided that these artists couldn’t stay hidden from the world and that they needed their own book which is “Horrorgasmo”.
All four artists come from the Veneto region which is a region that is pretty conservative and Catholic, maybe the repression created some deviant artists. Whether you buy that commonly held conception is up to you, maybe its bullshit. The first artist in this book is Stefano Zattera, he is the founder of Delirio Communications, in which he not only publishes his own work but other artist’s work. His work has appeared in various books and mags, as of now he still does work. Today he calls his work “Apocalyptic Surrealism” in which he still lampoons 1950’s and 1960’s pop culture as well as B movies. His work is in the first part of the book and already you can see his satire of retro junk culture, his art is my favorite in the book. Mutants and aliens fucking in a alternative 1950’s universe where bondage is widely accepted.
Next up in the book is Gianmaria Liani who has done art work for various magazines as well as the American magazine “Malefact”, he has also done his own comics and produced illustrations for the book “LupinIII” and it looks like he still does work and has a few books published underneath his belt. Liani’s work is sado masochistic and involves cannibalism and like Zattera he seems to lampoon retro junk culture. There is part of a comic strip on one page and fake movie poster on another one.
Spiderjack is gonna fuck you up good with his “cute characters” getting sucked, pummeled, stabbed etc. Just like the other artists in this book he has had his stuff published in various Italian magazines and is the author of a trading card book called “Ebryotica” which is just as weird and screwed up as his section in this book.
Last but definitely not least is Dast who is co founder of Delirio Communications along with Zattera who I’ve mentioned release fucked up zines, art and magazines. He has had his work published in various weird art magazines and other places as well as “Malefact” here in the US, and “Stripburger” in Slovakia not much more I can find on him don’t know if he does art nowadays anymore. Any search I tried came up with another Dast who is a musician. Dast’s art consists of stumpy and ugly hermaphrodites sucking, fucking and killing each other so that is that.
This book comes with Italian as well as English texts and the whole thing is in black and white which really makes the visual white noise pop aggressively. This book isn’t for the feint of heart there is debauchery, mutant and tentacle sex and violence. Some pieces lampoon religion, some try to push the boundaries of what is excepted in the art world. Over all sometimes I think this book tries too hard to shock, if this up your alley you aren’t in luck I bought my copy off of Abebooks and now doing a search it is nowhere to be found, it kind of pisses me off when books are released in limited quantities, kind of a hipster thing to do if you ask me. In closing if you wish to have this in your possession good luck finding it.
The heyday of the zine was the 1980’s to the 1990’s before the massive onslaught of the internet, and blogs, things we take for granted these days. The only way to find like minded individuals who were into the same weird music, movies, comics etc. that you were into was to pick up “Fact Sheet Five” a magazine cataloguing different zines, find like minded individuals through ads put in zines, and word of mouth. These zines were really personal and people put their own style and personal stamps on them. There was zines on all subjects you can think of from stuff as innocent as socks and clothing to alternative music and “snuff films”. The quality and quantity varied depending on how much money the person publishing the zine had, what access to printing equipment they had etc. Some zines were really primitive, some were hand drawn and xeroxed, then there was some that looked like they could’ve been sold in grocery and convenience stores right next to “People” magazine. Some also varied in size from A5 small digest size to giant newspaper size, then there is the magazine size and “Brutarian” was a zine that was as big as a regular sized magazine, the cover and back are slick and in color and the insides are in black and white.
Unfortunately the issue I got didn’t come with the “DeCeased/Brutarian Sampler” and the fact this zine actually had a music sampler is surprising. Most zines can’t afford one tape or CD let alone the printing costs. Right off the bat “Brutarian #7” with its cover done by underground cartoonist Doug Allen pronounces itself, the cover screams “Lo Brow! Stupid! Childish!” Open it up and you’ll soon see that while the contents are what are screamed on the cover, the articles and reviews and they way their written say different. Thumbing through this thing you see that not only are there articles, reviews and interviews, there is underground comics drawn by recognizable names if your into underground comics, Jarret Huddleson being one who did the cover art for the “Garbage” compilation, a compilation of noise, metal and punk acts mainly from Japan. In this issue he takes apart Madonna (literally in drawing of course), on the “Garbage” compilation cover he gave her black eyes.
Also interviewed are Larry Buchanan, director of Z grade fare like “Mistress of the Apes” and “Creature of Destruction” for Roger Corman’s company. You also get big titted Kitten Natividad, who bore her chest for the classic dirty old man, Russ Meyer, in his movies, in the interview you find out that she was drifting towards doing hardcore porn (yeah I know you dirty perv, your searching for her name in pornhub, great minds think alike, after your done with um, whatever, come on back and cool down).
Brian Horrorwitz, who owns the awesome “Trash Palace” web site and sells very hard to find movies and other things and is in the psychobilly band, Ubangis, interviews horror punk band, Sic Kidz. Then we’re on to “Celluloid Void” where the movies of the day are reviewed, this issue came out in 1993 and there is a review on Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” and the review is actually prophetic, this was before “Pulp Fiction”, and “Brutarian” is prophetic, especially from this end line in the article: “Tarantino does get to you and he makes the whole exercise look effortless. This may not be genius but it certainly is, at the very least, prodigious talent. His pending partnership as screen writer/producer with John Woo promises to kick ass (did they end up doing a movie that I don’t know of?). Here’s hoping Hollywood wises up and starts throwing bagfuls of money at this guy.” Wow did they and depending on what your opinion of Tarantino is, that was good or bad thing.
Also “Basic Instinct”, “Army of Darkness”, Coppola’s “Dracula”, etc. to name movies and this is around when they were in theaters. Ozzy Fide reviews videos in the “Six Pack Theatre” section, to you kids out there VHS videos are bulky, black rectangular objects that played pictures, you could throw a VHS tape at somebody’s head and knock them out. He gives movie beer cans depending on how good they are. He reviews “Universal Soldier”, “Poison Ivy”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1992) etc. He shits on a lot of movies even if he likes them and its hilarious. “Brutarian” does book reviews in the “Brutarian Library” where various books that offend the common reader are reviewed, again “Brutarian” doesn’t disappoint or bore, the people who write the reviews make something interesting something you normally wouldn’t give attention to. Then we’re on to music with “Audio Deprivation” but “Brutarian” doesn’t limit its musical reviews to 1990’s alternative college radio rock and punk bands like a lot of zines did back in the day, nope they cover it all, metal, punk, garage, rockabilly etc. which endears me to “Brutarian”. Granted there was a lot of zines tailored to different people with different tastes in music and movies. “Brutarian” will review a death metal album in one column and a 1960’s revival garage band’s album in the next column.
The various contributors to this zine are a whose who of the underground, not only do you get comics by Mike Diana, Danny Hellman, Greg Fiering among others, you get other zine and underground writers contributing like Stately Wayne Manor, Greg Goodsell, Vic Stanley etc. “Brutarian” number 7, count me in!!!
Up next, right off the bat, you get a bat girl riding a missile saying on it “Bang Me Big Boy”. Again, “Brutarian #8” assaults your fragile, weak boy sensibilities. Its sexist and stupid and “Brutarian” doesn’t give one fuck what you think of it.
First interview up, they let “The Mentors” mentally rape you and laugh in your face. El Duce, and Sickie Wifebeater do their interviews drunk, I mean, how else would they do a interview? Incoherent offense spews on every page, sneering and disdain for every wimpy crybaby in the world reading this interview will have the Millennial and Z crowd running for their Starbucks Soy Latte Safe Spaces. “The Mentors” are a homophobic, misogynist, perverted, sadistic, masochistic, drug addicted, alcoholic sleaze metal band that will literally make you eat their shit.
You get comics from J. Huddleston, Greg Suss, Pat Carroll, Steve Cerio, Tom Corllette, Mike Diana and Paul Revess. The obligatory “Audio Deprivation” section that takes music to the wood shed, Deicide’s “Amon: Feasting the Beast”, The New Bomb Turk’s “Destroy-O-Boy”, Geto Boys’ “Uncut Dope”, and Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Rockin’ My Life Away” are among the discs given a spanking along with “Swingin’ Singles” a column on singles and EPs. You get an article on the insane genius Joe Meek by Steve Jefferies, Joe did the infamous 1960’s instrumental “Telstar” among other pieces of music, Joe was Schizophrenic and thought he was from a different planet, he also thought his land lady was spying on him he ended up killing her with a stolen shot gun and then himself.
“Celluloid Void” is skinnier sadly but there is an article by the editor Don Salemi on Mario Bava flicks, Ozzy Fide drinks himself silly to videos with “Six Pack Theatre”, and “Brutarian Library” pulls underground books from the feces and encrusted sewer and flings them at you, there is a section on books on the “JFK assassination conspiracy” thing.
So if you can, get a hold of any old copies of “Brutarian” their out there on ebay and there is some back issues to read for free on archive.org just by searching. I tried to find out more stuff on this zine and I thought I’d find more than I did given that a lot of the issues had semi famous underground cartoonists and writers. I was a dead wrong, there is bare bones info on this thing. Even combing the publisher notes. This zine is very professionally done, more so than a lot of the zines that came out in the 1980s and 1990’s. “Brutarian” wallows in its own, low brow, lo fi filth. Nobody could get away with half of what is in these two issues if they tried publishing these today.
From what I can tell this zine was edited and published by Don Salemi out of Arlington, Virginia, the most unlikely place I would think something like “Brutarian” would come from, but you’d be surprised how many messed up zines came out of the south and heartland of America, in fact, the most repressed places have the more messed up zines. “Brutarian” is for the culture Brute in all of us, man or woman. While it is cool that people like myself can just publish a site or blog, I miss the heyday of the zines when the only way to put out your “blog” was to draw, write, type, print and xerox copies of your very personal zine. Don’t get me wrong, there is still some people who do it old school and to them I say “I am glad your keeping the true flame alive”.
After the underground success of “Love and Rockets” comics series came to a screeching temporary halt in 1996, one half of the duo shit his shorts, dived in and swam in the surrealistic and absurd ocean of his own comic, “New Love”. “Fear of Comics” compiles these stories as well as stories from other sources and is volume 17 in the “Love and Rockets” compilations put out by Fantagraphics. While “Love and Rockets” was about young people in lust and love going to punk rock shows, “Fear of Comics” follows the antics of giant moles fucking opera singers, tribes men eating brains, forgotten saints, alien invasion, squadrons of flying women (not in planes either) who dress like retro 1950’s cigarette sales girls fighting giant babies etc. All of the inside pages are in black and white.
On the surface this comic anthology looks like a bunch of nonsense, nonsense for nonsense sake. But noise addicts know to look past the static and drink it all in and there is a lot to drink in, it might get you drunk. While Gilbert has his own style he blends different styles into his own, the prime example being his dead on homage of the artist Herge of Belgian comic “Tin Tin” fame and too be honest, I find “Fear of Comics” more interesting then “Love and Rockets” but that is because I am weirdo. It is a lot less sexual than “Love and Rockets” and the Hernandez brother’s other projects, I mean don’t get me wrong this isn’t G Rated stuff, more like an “R”, unlike Gilbert’s other comic “Blubber” that is a straight up “XXX” and is being put out in a compilation by Fantagraphics in winter, 2021.
Sadly there is no new copies of this anthology out, like all good things Fantagraphics puts out they don’t ever seem to do reprints, no matter how much the fans and other people complain it seems to not phase them one bit. Hell, I’ve even tried to message them with complaints because some of us don’t want to pay astronomical prices for used physical items and to all you “tech cloud” fetishists out there who ejaculate at the fact that everything is digital and think I am a “boomer” for actually wanting to hold something in my hands unlike you guys who seem not to care that the only thing you hold physically in your hand is your shrunken, unused, mommy basement dweller Vienna sausages, good luck finding this anthology on archives or other digital comic sites oh and don’t come crying to me when your external hard drive croaks and all your other back up USBs are corrupted. RANT OVER.
Awww a twisted fairy tale from a twisted mind, I bet when you read that sentence back to yourself the name “Ted Jouflas” doesn’t ring a bell, “Early Tim Burton” would most likely pop up in the dark, scummy recesses of your mind. But you should know that name, “Ted Jouflas”, he draws pretty much what Tim Burton thinks but while Tim stabs, Ted twists the blade. Why nobody has animated “Scary!” Is beyond me, at least as a short film. Ted creates his own version of our reality, and I hate to re use this metaphor but its like a fun house version of our world.
This is a debauched and dark fairy tale of an egotistical, self absorbed, alcohol and drug addicted actress and model named Winkie and her perverted miss adventures, all illustrated by Kouflas. You also get Winkie’s pet poodle, a zombie cat named Mensa, a perverted plastic surgeon by the name of Dr. Nimrod, Princess Pretender, Candy Ass, Bug Boy, Dmitri and Hellbilly.
Ted Jouflas’ style is very interesting, he really goes up to the line of “abstract” but doesn’t cross it, each one of his panels or single pages moves the story along without being confusing. A couple of the panels mix in some collage also, the cover and back of the book are collage pieces. Every panel and every page of “Scary!” Is surprising and interesting, you might be disgusted, or repulsed by what you are reading and seeing but you won’t be bored.
I first encountered Ted’s work in “Weirdo” where it automatically it stood out, his “Bat Girl” strip really stung me in the eyes. I had to find more of his work, of course the awesome Fantagraphics put this out. Ted started out painting and he was such a good painter that he had exhibitions of his work in various cities and he got various art exhibition awards. At the same time he was doing free lance work for various alternative weeklies and newspapers while doing work for Rolling Stone and Spin. In the late 1980’s he started doing strips for “Weirdo”, in 1990 he moved to Seattle as Grunge was exploding and did freelance work for Fantagraphics and underground label Sub Pop. “Scary!” Got published by Fantagraphics in 2002.
Ted and his wife live in Phoenix, Arizona, his comics mainly show up in “The American Bystander” and he teaches an art class at Alice Cooper’s (yes that one, SHOCK ROCK GOD) Solid Rock Teen Center, a place Alice (real name Vincent Furnier) funds for disadvantaged kids. “Scary!” is worth every penny. The images and words will stab you in the eyes and you will like it. Required visual white noise.
I randomly grab some type of newspaper on the toilet tank of my stoner buddy’s bathroom and I open it to the comics section, ahhh looks like “Mutts”, I’ll get a little chuckle or I’ll use this paper to wipe my butt with…wait a second! Is Mutts shooting up heroin? WTF is this? Oh…Its a comic called “Underworld” by Kaz and this paper I am reading is the local “alternative weekly”.
And the book has an introduction by the creator of “Mutts”, Patrick McDonnell who is friends with Kaz in real life. “Underworld” is like looking at demented funhouse mirror images of Mutt and Jeff, Mickey Mouse, Popeye and Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy and Slugo.
Kaz, full name Kazimieras Gediminas Prapuolenis, comes from a Lithuanian family, he said his family fought and yelled a lot, he said he got his imagination from his mother who encouraged his artistic ventures. He said his influences as a kid that followed him into adulthood was “The Wizard of Oz”, “Peanuts”, “Bugs Bunny”, “Popeye”, “Lil’ Nancy”, “Dick Tracy” and “Krazy Kat” comics, the Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, and Mark Twain. If you do pick up this “Underworld from Hoboken to Hollywood” compilation, you will see these influences stamped all over, albeit spit out in a twisted way that is Kaz’s own.
Kaz went to the School of Visual Arts in New York City, some of the instructors there were Art Spiegelman and Harvey Kurtzman, a lot of artists came out of there and went on to write for Spiegleman’s “RAW”, the large size underground comic magazine whose street level competition was Robert Crumb’s “Weirdo” I did an article on “Weirdo” here http://www.noisepuncher.net/2021/05/19/your-such-a-weirdo-underground-comix-magazine-1981-1993/, Kaz also wrote for them and another one time SVA student who moved from New York to Seattle, Peter Bagge, became editor of “Weirdo”.
Kaz was doing illustration work thinking about quitting comics because they took way too long to complete until New York Press asked him if he would do a strip for their paper, so he developed “Underworld”, he wanted to do a black humor strip full of addiction, murder, sex and despair, you know, all the finer things in life. He wanted it to be about two low rent hoods, one of them being a demented and drug addicted “Mickey Mouse” look alike. He took the name of the comic from the 1927 silent gangster movie by Josef Von Sternberg.
He pretty much said “I took the shapes and cartoon spare parts from comic history and rearranged them and subverted them. If it made me laugh I used it. I actually thought of “Underworld” as an underground comics parody of daily newspaper comics when I started.” He said he gets ideas from listening to people on the street, or reimagining other comic strips he’d read and twisting the humor, he also filters his feelings that day through his comics.
Kaz says “Underworld” is his escape and he feels like a kid again when he works on it. The strip appears in various alternative weeklies across the country, well, the ones that still print at least. Kaz has gone onto work as a writer for “SpongeBob SquarePants” (you can see Kaz’ absurdist humor in a lot of the episodes he wrote) and Disney’s “Phineas and Ferb”, Kaz actually got an Emmy nomination for an episode he wrote. “Underworld” is a strip that will either give you a chuckle or make you laugh so hard you shit your pants and you’ll want to go back and read the strip and show it to your friends. Some ideas work and some don’t, but one thing you’ll get is something different, absurd and weird in Kaz’s world than what you’d get in normal comic strips. There is some one off characters but the reoccurring ones are Snuff (a Popeye look alike) and Creep Rat (a twisted Mickey Mouse) two low rent crooks who are constantly getting into trouble, Nuzzle the Junkie always looking for a hit, Smoking Cat, Petit Mort, Newton the big man with the small head, Zoot Rumpus and Bunky the Weird Man Baby. Fantagraphics released this bad boy in hardcover it features the best of 23 years of the weekly comic, there is a few pages in color and its mostly in black and white. Another feature that pops up is “Kaz’s Girls”, a strip of different girls with, shall we say, “unique” qualities and features, “Kaz’s Sketchbook” a one panel strip of drawings from, what else, his sketchbook and “Lists” where Nuzzle just lists a bunch of weird and random shit in each panel. “Underworld” is a must have for anybody who loves twisted, different and weird comics.
Open this comic compilation and the smell of cheap gin, cigarettes and even cheaper perfume wafts right off the page. You know exactly where you are: “The Manly World of Lloyd Llewellyn”. Welcome to a world where the 1950’s to mid 1960’s pop culture is mixed together with no blurring lines, its a place where space travel and alien visitation is normal. A four eyed detective, Lloyd Llewellyn, hangs out in a bar “The Big White Dot” with his diminutive side kick, Ernie. Together they chase alien dames, beat up Ed Big Daddy Roth monster teenagers from Jupiter, battle man eating Beatniks etc. This was Daniel Clowes first foray into doing his own comic book.
Daniel says all up until the point of Lloyd Llewellyn he had only done 25 pages of actual comics and single illustrations until he sent an Lloyd Llewellyn page in color to Fantagraphics, Fantagraphics gave him his own comic, except it was in black and white, the cover and back being colored which fits the whole aesthetic of the magazine and the time period its paying homage to. Its like reading a black and white sci fi noir film.
Dan says he isn’t particularly proud of his work in “The Manly World of Lloyd Llewellyn” it was one of his first projects and he says he was working himself up to “Triple A Baseball”. He said writing Lloyd Llewellyn was a way of exorcising pop culture demons and trivia he’d gathered, pop culture from 1948-1966. He thought there was a market for comics that referenced “Dragnet” and Mickey Spillane novels, he said the target audience turned out to be ex hippies who thought it was a satire of the pre 1967 culture they hated and younger kids who were into “Hep Cat” culture and hated anything post 1966.
The series lasted from 1985 to 1994, in it he pays homage to various pop culture relics from the 1950-1966 period including Red Sovine and Burl Ives lyrics, DC comics of the early 1960’s, characters that are similar to Lee Hazlewood, Esquerita, Alfred E. Newman, Sylvester P. Smythe, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth monsters, 1950’s “Super Duck” and “Plastic Man”, movies like “Detour”, “Devil Thumbs A Ride”, “Touch of Evil”, “Brainac”, “Thrill Killers”, “Homicidal”, “Straight Jacket” and “Psycho” and TV shows like “Dragnet”. Despite what Clowes says (and his later stuff is better) I wasn’t bored one minute with this thing. I loved this world, I’ve read worse and won’t review those on here.
In this book is the foreword and afterward to the first version of this collection called simply “#$@&! Parts one and two”. This book is a must for Daniel Clowes fans, problem is this book is out of print and rare. While “Fantagraphics” is one of my favorite companies out there, their refusal to republish past stuff, even in limited quantities makes me insanely mad. The prices are utterly fucking ridiculous, I was lucky to get this copy for 150 bucks from Australia. Utterly ridiculous. From “Fantagraphics” point of view they probably wonder why they should reprint something barely anybody knows or cares about but the problem is they do it all the time. I wish they’d give Lloyd Llewellyn the same treatment as Dan’s other work like “Velvet Glove Cast In Iron” and “Eight Ball”. There is stuff released that is selling on ebay and various sites for insane amounts of money I would never pay, no matter how much I want it. Until I started searching I didn’t think I’d ever read “The Manly World of Lloyd Llewellyn” and I despaired of ever seeing this visual white noise. There is a lot out there I want to see but never will because of insane fucking collectors and sellers who drive the price of something way the fuck up, sure scarcity causes the costs to sky rocket but c’mon, some of these sellers are just ripping desperate schmucks off. (RANT OVER. LOL!)
“The Manly World of Lloyd Llewellyn” was released in a limited print run of 2000 copies, wish they’d do another so all of you out there could experience Clowes’ strange noir, sci fi, retro world. If you want a copy I say do a search on your favorite internet search engine, the physical copies like I have are gonna straight up rape your wallet raw, and on amazon right now the cheapest available copy is 727 bucks! EEEEK!!! When I searched I could find no download links, if you want to search for a copy good luck to you and good luck hunting!
When I was a youngster, I remember looking at the comics rack in our local liquor store, “George’s Liquor”. Old man George was a curmudgeonly old man who smoked a big cigar, this was before there was laws to ban indoor smoking. George’s store had two pieces, the back, separated by a huge black curtain had all the booze, and porno mags, the front of the store had all the soda, 5 cents to 25 cent candy, regular magazines and the comics. George would get annoyed at us and grunt “You kids just gonna stand there and read those picture books are you gonna buy summin’?” Was his common refrain, what George didn’t know was he threw all the comics in one section, the DC, the Marvel and the underground ones. As a kid I would gravitate towards the weirder comics, I still read the super hero ones but I was more interested in the “Conan the Barbarian” comics than the Superman and Spider-man comics, the “Conan” comics were pretty racy and as a young boy I felt funny looking at Conan laying on top of the scantly clad women in the issue. I promptly bought two issues before my mom caught me reading them and threw them away. One day, browsing the comics I came across a cover that was completely different from all the comics populating the rack, it said “Weirdo” and the cover was creepy, I picked it up, after thumbing through it I knew it was something my mom would throw away if I bought it and then recommend I see a psychiatrist. There was weird people having sex, indiscriminate violence and creepiness that sprang up and hit me between my nine year old eyes. I felt like it was something I shouldn’t be reading and through the years it sat in the back of my subconscious growing like a poisonous mushroom in the dark basement of my mind until it came full grown.
So after buying the “Zap Comix” box set, and reading the supplemental material the poisonous mushroom reared its ugly head in the basement. Robert Crumb, of “Fritz the Cat”, “Keep on Truckin'” fame founded “Zap” and invited his artist friends to make “Zap Comix”, the first underground comic to spurn on the movement, not the first underground comic but the one to spread independent comics to more widespread notoriety. Robert wanted to bring in more blood to “Zap” newer artists besides Spain, Robert Williams, S. Clay Wilson, Rick Griffin, Gilbert Shelton and Victor Moscoso. They put it to a vote and Robert got outvoted, undeterred, Robert decided he was gonna start another magazine featuring new up and comers, as well as the old masters of the underground comics called “Weirdo”. In fact most of the “Zap” crew would contribute to “Weirdo”.
“The whole idea for “Weirdo” magazine came to me in a flash in the fall of 1980. I was performing my daily meditation exercise one day when the vision of this kooky, screwball magazine erupted in all its tacky, low-life, dumb-ass essence, a style-mix of the old 1940’s and 1950’s girlie-and-cartoon ‘joke books,’ Harvey Kurtzman’s early MAD and Humbug, their sleazy imitator, and the self published ‘punk zines’ of the period. I got very excited. I became obsessed,” Crumb wrote.
Crumb took his idea to Ron “Baba” Turner of “Last Gasp Eco Funny Comix” who’d published both Crumb and his wife before. Ron said Crumb had a deal if Crumb did the covers and had artwork in each issue which Crumb agreed to. Crumb’s covers mimicked the old “Humbug” and “MAD” magazine covers with small illustrations populating the borders. Crumb also had a lively letter section, most of the letters coming from artists who would go on to do more things in the future, people like Craig Yoe, etc., future filmmaker Terry Zwigoff, who would go on to do the “Crumb” documentary, “Ghost World”, “Bad Santa” etc. who was friends with the Crumbs took photos for the infamous fumettis for “Weirdo” hosted a love and relationship advice column that was humorous in the letters section.
Crumb was inspired by the “photo funnies” from the men’s magazines of the 1940’s and 1950’s, magazines like “Titter” and “Wink” not to mention the ones Kurtzman made for “Humbug”.
The Italian magazines called them “fumetti” and they were really popular in Mexico but called “Fotonovelas”. Crumb put his own fetish like spin on it, his fumettis normally featured women with muscular legs and big asses, sometimes Crumb took the photos himself and sometimes he employed outside photographers but didn’t like how they turned out. Zwigoff was one who did some of the photography. These were widely unpopular with the “Weirdo” readership who wanted more comics, in fact, they were widely panned through out the letter’s section. Crumb didn’t care, until almost the end of his editorship he kept on featuring them, personally I think they added something different to an otherwise straight comic magazine, also some of the chicks Crumb picked are pretty hot.
Crumb also featured comics from people who weren’t practicing artists, people like prisoners, the insane and amateurs if he found the content interesting. One prisoner sent Crumb comics from his experiences in prison and Crumb put them in the magazine. Macedonio was a cartoonist who went to prison for assault. His work featured in issue 5.
Not to mention he put on the back cover of an issue a rambling, paranoid schizo screed from Francis E Dec, Dec was a disbarred lawyer who warned about the “Communist Computer God” he thought the CIA was always after him. Dec would send his ranting to random people whose addresses he found in the phone book and he would send them to heads of companies and the government. Crumb published this stuff along with the address to Dec’s house to get even more rants.
He would also re publish found pieces, 1950’s era post cards from a backwoods artist named Norman Pettingill whose cartoons featured insanity in numerous backwoods settings, forests, rough and tumble bars etc. He also reprinted cartoons from 1940’s-50’s era specialty magazines.
And comics from such obscure places as self published underground black newspapers. “A xerox of a xerox” from an elderly black man by the name of Eugene Teal that featured frogs in various, strange situations. Nobody else outside of Crumb would republish stuff so raw and illiterate. Stuff like this is what made Crumb’s editorship one of the best.
B.N. Duncan headed “Teletimes” where he published poems, writings and drawings from the down and out and homeless of the Berkley area. Through him Crumb found some of the material that would be featured in “Weirdo”.
He featured work from the nutso, underground satire religion “Church of the Sub Genius” (Anybody want SLACK?! PRAISE BOB) whose messiah is con artist, insane, pipe smoking, salesman named J.R. “Bob Dobbs”. Some call them a cult and I agree because I know first hand. I am part of it, and so should you. WE ACCEPT HIM WE ACCEPT ONE OF US ONE OF US. FROP FOR ALL.
“Weirdo” also lampooned and made fun of the then current pop culture of the time. Various artists attacked sacred cows like traditional Sunday comic strips, famous ads of the time and so called “good causes” that sent some people in a tizzy over in the letters section. Not only that, gender, sex, age, race etc. would be lampooned, again people in the letters section would get in a tizzy and if a lot of this stuff was published these days, the artist and the publisher would get “cancelled” and have their personal lives destroyed. But “Weirdo” was published when people could take a joke and realize what satire was.
Causing more controversy Crumb put insane/genius Stanislav Szukalski master sculptor and painter who also had a theory called “Zermatism”, he believed all communists, fascists, bullies, criminals and thugs are descended from yetis who raped humans after the Great Global Flood. He wrote thousands of pages on his theory and sculpted and painted based on it, of course, the problem was some of Szukalski’s theories lead to obvious racist ends. Crumb didn’t care about that, if a person was crazy and different enough their work got published in “Weirdo”. As well as pieces by Oisif Egaux “explaining” sexuality and control in a scattershot way.
During Crumb’s tenure the underground “Mini Comix” movement was alive and well and were appearing everywhere, Crumb promoted these in his magazine.
As well as promoting work from his street dwelling, slightly crazy younger brother Max.
The magazine featured a lot of artists that would go on to do bigger things, like John K. of “Ren and Stimpy” fame, Drew Friedman, Kaz (who went on to work for “Sponge Bob Square Pants), Daniel Clowes etc.
Apparently, any artist who appeared in “Weirdo” got 50 bucks a page. However, according to Crumb getting those checks was like squeezing water from a stone. Crumb claimed that he had to stand over publisher Ron Turner’s back to make sure Ron made out those checks and he claimed Ron would drag his feet, get distracted, order lunch and do other things. Robert would badger Ron until he got all those checks for the artist. However, Ron claims that it wasn’t that easy, that the names, Social Security numbers for tax purposes and other things had to be hashed out before a check was written and sent out. Whatever the case Robert got burned out in 1983 on being a editor for “Weirdo”, he was sick of dealing with artist’s and reader’s complaints and just wanted to draw. So he passed the torch to Peter Bagge of “Hate” and “Comical Funnies” fame, after submitting stuff Crumb straight up asked him if he wanted to take over “Weirdo”. At first Bagge didn’t think he was serious, but Robert insisted. Bagge was moving from New York to Seattle because his wife was co owning a deli business with her sister whose husband was a Seattle Seahawks football player. Peter Bagge was more punk rock, New York, than Crumb who was ex hippie and more into pre 1940’s music and from laid back Berkley. Bagge was considered the “smart ass” and brought along his smart ass friends from New York and Seattle to help put material in “Weirdo”. Starting with issue 10 Bagge came on ragin’. “Weirdo” was in good hands.
There was also an “Ugly Madonna” art contest and as well as a “Ugly Art” contest where people submitted their ugliest art. A lot of the contributions came from future famous cartoonists and animators as well as underground cartoonists.
As per his agreement with the publisher, Last Gasp, Crumb continued to do covers and comics, even though he wasn’t a editor. Some of his best work was during Bagge’s tenure as editor in my opinion.
Bagge’s tenure also brought about more biographical pieces, like Bagge’s experience as a kid dealing with an actual “Weirdo”. He also encouraged other cartoonists and letter writers to submit their experiences on dealing with actual rejects and they all complied. Another example is Bruce Carleton’s (Bruce did work for “Punk” and “Screw” magazine) illustrated diary of being in the Malay archipelago and his sexscapades.
Various work got featured during Bagge’s tenure from his fellow School of Visual Arts peers. SVA had as teachers Will Eisner (The Spirit), Harvey Kurtzman (as mentioned “Humbug” and “Mad” magazine), and Art Spiegelman (of “Maus”, “RAW magazine” and “Garbage Pail Kids” fame, more about him later). As well as artist Rory Hayes whom artist Bill Griffith (Zippy the Pinhead) does a introduction for. There is something wrong with Rory’s comics, the man is deeply disturbed but he is also a genius, Rory died at 34 years old from a drug overdose when Crumb published him in “Snatch Comics”, Janis Joplin (yes that one) came over and read Crumb the riot act Crumb wrote “She said “Look, I have to talk to you this is serious, you know I think you guys are making a big mistake putting this Rory Hayes guy in your comics. The rest of you guys are doing this kind of funny stuff about sex and all that, but this guy is just sick, he’s a psycho.” Some of the “Zap” crew returns, mainly Spain and S. Clay Wilson with his “Checkered Demon” character, Wilson’s “Checkered Demon” would drive this easily offended generation into the nuthouse.
Bagge also being tight with the “Punk Magazine” crew republished some stuff from the than defunct magazine in “Weirdo”, again I love this reprinted material. It was one of the more interesting features of “Weirdo” exposing people to something they hadn’t read or seen yet.
Bagge started getting “Weirdo” burn out like Crumb (he put “Weirdo” together on his kitchen table and would drive down to Berkley!) he got burned out dealing with pissy artists and apparently Ron Turner, the publisher didn’t think too much of Bagge. Bagge was wanting to just do his own art and wanted to do his own “Hate Comix” and “Neat Comix”. The reins went over to “The Bunch”, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Robert’s wife who have previously got worked published in “Wimmen Comix”, “Power Pak”, “Twisted Sisters” etc. among other publications. She came on board on issue 18 in 1987. She was called “The Bunch” because Crumb had a a fussy, female character drawn like his future wife called “The Bunch” people called her that and it stuck. From the beginning of the magazine, the Crumb’s daughter, Sophie, had been born and living. Some of her art is in these issues, Aline’s issues lean more towards the biographical end of things, and depending on the story they can be interesting, hilarious or boring. Aline also brought to light more female artists, however, there was less found items and less galleries which were high lights for me. Aline’s run is my least favorite, it isn’t bad, I just like Crumb and Bagge’s insane editorship, Aline’s is more “professional” well, as professional as you can get editing a magazine like “Weirdo”. Bagge did a guest editorship on issue 25 while Aline had a holiday in France.
With issue 27 the Crumb’s were ready to hang it up, Aline wanted to really move to France. Winters, CA was getting over run with Mc Mansions, and Aline didn’t like her daughter using words like “duh” and they said “the Christian right were taking over the country” so they moved to France. They had a lot of money and bought a chateau Ron Turner was going to reprint all of the “Weirdo” issues and wanted the Crumb’s to do one more to promote the reprints. They obliged with the last issue, 28. The issue was an “International Issue” and the title was in French “Verre D’eau” which means “glass of water” they called it that because “Weirdo” phonetically to the french sounds close to “Verre D’eau”. On the cover was just as a lone glass of water. In my opinion “Weirdo” goes out not with a bang but a whimper. In my opinion this was the weakest issue, its still good and features art from not only America but Europe too. However, my problems aren’t with the art, its the message, when it comes to politics or religion I don’t like to be preached at. I admire when people can get their point across in a intelligent and original manner, even if I disagree with their point of view. Convince me, don’t yell in my face and yell in my face this issue does. I am not going to tell you where I line up politically, this blog isn’t about that and it is nobody’s business, hell, I might even agree with everything politically in this issue but think the execution is bad. Too much of this in the issue.
In the last issue there was a lot of controversy, especially with Crumb’s parodies of racist and anti-Semitic views and attitudes. Again he used satire to expose this but for a lot of stupid people it flew over their heads. In fact, a white nationalist zine called “Race and Reality” republished the two comics thinking them serious which shows how far it flew over their heads, that shouldn’t surprise anybody, any person who goose steps, wears a brown uniform and lives in their mother’s basement with no job isn’t too smart of a person. Art Spiegelman pointed out to Crumb how satire can be misinterpreted and he shouldn’t have ever published the comics. Crumb dismissed this and said it wasn’t his responsibility if some idiots took satire seriously and I agree, if everybody went around worried that some idiot was gonna take their creative work out of context and get some bad influence out of it nothing would be created. In my mind, that line of reasoning can be used to censor works and is a dangerous line of thinking, Spiegelman, a life long artist himself should know better. So Trigger Warning, if you get offended scroll down the page, kids this is what we call “SATIRE” its meant to shed light on something that is very dark in a humorous or over the top way, you’ve been warned.
If you end up being convinced you need to dive into the cesspool that is “Weirdo” and come up smelling like shit, you should get the recently released “The Book of Weirdo” by Jon B. Cooke, Drew Friedman does the cover, the book goes into way more detail than I did in this post, the guy searches every nook and cranny of the “Weirdo” universe and anybody even tangentially connected to the magazine. Released by Last Gasp and highly recommended. So many artists were showcased in “Weirdo” that I left out, Savage Pencil, R.L. Crabb, Phoebe Gloeckner, Carel Moiseiwitsch etc. If you want a good picture of the underground culture of the 1980’s and early 1990’s there is no better place to look than “Weirdo”.
So where do you become a “Weirdo”? Well, try looking on ebay or amazon, cheap physical copies are still available. I am one of those old crusty guys that prefers the physical copy but if your one of these young whippersnappers that like to see things on these new fangled thingamajigs you can go here: https://getcomics.info/other-comics/weirdo-1-28/
That is the question your probably asking, well let Mike clue you in on what that means from his foreword: “There are alphabetical reviews here of more than 3000 features (and select TV shows on video) that are considered Psychotronic. That means horror, science fiction, fantasy and exploitation movies. These are releases that used to be called “B” features and were popular in inner city grindhouses, at drive-ins, and on local late-night TV. These days, you can see many of them at any time of the day on cable TV or whenever you want to on video. It doesn’t matter when or where they were made, whether they’re “good” or not, whether they cost a few thousand dollars or over $100 million. They can be barely released obscurities, acknowledged cult items, or over-hyped and over-merchandised household names. And unlike other movie guides, nothing is omitted because its in bad taste. All of this stuff is out there. You should know about it.” And your gonna know a lot after perusing this book, hell, this giant cinder block! You can throw it at somebody’s head and put them in the hospital, you can use it as a door stop, or throw it through a window. You can read it from beginning to end if, you get to the end before dying of old age or peruse it at your leisure. And if your a fan of crazy films this book is a must have, all joking aside.
I did a few shitty scans to try to show you what your in for if you purchase this book. A fellow cult movie lover told me the first book, “The Psychotronic Film Guide” is the Old Testament and “The Psychotronic Video Guide” is the New Testament. In my opinion, I reviewed the video guide first because its bigger and will give you more bang for your buck, of course most of the movies reviewed in the first book are left out of the video guide. The film guide is a slimmer book but it still is big. This book is how I found out about “Black Devil Doll From Hell”, not the shitty 2000’s remake, but the 1984 shot on video monstrosity, a nasty, mean, dirty abortion of a “movie” that introduced me to the whole “SOV” i.e. “Shot on Video” movie genre thing that opened me to a whole new world of insane good bad. As stated in the foreword the titles are listed alphabetically so if your looking for something you’ll find it fast, each title has the year the movie was released, the director, the screen writer, editor, main actor or actresses, cinematographer, music and the producer, and a small capsule explaining the movie and Weldon’s take on it, Weldon’s short takes are witty and sometimes downright hilarious. I kept a pen by my side to mark movies I might find interesting, Mike will also go into depth about the release details of the “video” and he will talk about “tape”, for you younger noise addicts you won’t know what he means, the good thing is most of the titles talked about in this book are available in some format, that could be the original tape if your looking on ebay, sometimes a download or torrent off certain “uh hmm” sites, a DVD R from an online company that specializes in hard to find movies, and fly by night operators or small film companies releasing this stuff to actual DVD and/or Blu Ray.
No color pictures kids, it isn’t a “picture book” go elsewhere for that, there is some black and white stills as well as poster art scattered through the book. Of course most of these “guides”, “encyclopedias”, and “reference” books have become obsolete with the advent of the internet and search engines. However I am one of those old codgers that prefers a book that he can flip through, and don’t get me wrong books are still put out but their starting to get few and far between. When there is web sites and blogs listing little known content which pertains to movies, music, books and art, who needs a huge ass book that takes up space? I fucking do and I will continue to prefer physical media to digital media on some server or cloud. All in all this is something you can leave on the back of your toilet and you will never get bored, just keep a pen handy. I know leafing through this thing I’d happen on an interesting movie and try to commit the name to memory, problem is most of the time I would forget the name and get pissed off. Another cool feature of this book is the grey genre capsules where Michael will explain a genre of a movie and what to look for.
Michael started the “Psychotronic Video” zine in 1980, zines were pretty much physical blogs put to print, made cheaply xeroxed and stapled together. I am gonna review more zines later on. He got the name from the movie “Psychotronic Man” which I will have to track down. Weldon also interviewed various actors, directors and other people in the cult film business for his zine aside from the reviews. He had guest reviewers in his magazine which covered music, other zines and comics. He folded “Psychotronic” in 2006 citing increasing printing costs, and increasingly underhanded behavior from distributors, he said it was impossible to put out a self published zine in the 2000’s, he said it was hard enough in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the heyday of the zine. All in all he released 41 issues, some of which I used to see in Barnes n’ Nobles as a teenager next to the defunct magazine “Film Threat”. I remember buying a copy because when I opened it and started reading it I was automatically enthralled. In the process of growing up and numerous moves I lost those issues but remembered the name, which is how I found out about the “Psychotronic Video Guide” and the first book, the “Movie Guide”. Michael doesn’t have a web site nor is he interested in writing anymore books, zines or articles, he runs a small shop in Augusta, Georgia named “Psychotronic” that sells posters and collectibles. More power to him, so if your able to get a copy, I will review the first book in the future. I reviewed this one because it is more interesting and fatter. Happy hunting, noise addicts.