#120 Spain Rodriguez
Click the above image to see the full-size image on the site I found it on.
Spain Rodriguez got his start as one of the Zap crew of underground cartoonists in the late 60’s. Spain’s Trashman and Big Bitch are a lot of fun, but he really shines in his wild autobiographical strips. Spain has lived a very interesting life, and his true life stories are full of humor, violence and mayhem. Many of his autobiographical strips have been collected in his book My True Story… his autobiographical strips also appear regularly in the excellent anthology Blab! His historical strips (many of which are also included in My True Story) are quite wonderful as well. His art is made for black and white, and graphic in every sense of the word… something like a cross between EC Comics, old Russian poster art, Jack Kirby, and cheap beer.
Click here to go to Spain’s website.
Click here to read the lambiek.net entry on Spain Rodriguez.
#121 Gustave Verbeek
A lot of comic strips can be formulaic… this isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all. The brilliant Krazy Kat‘s most basic premise is a mouse hitting a cat on the head with a brick, after all. Indeed, a number of strips have taken a limited premise and woven it into inventive strips for years, or even decades… limitations can inspire a lot of inventiveness.
No strips that I’m aware of have used as cockamamie a premise as Gustave Verbeek’s The Upside Downs of Little Lady Lovekins and Old Man Muffaroo (which I wrote about previously here). Each week the mad Verbeek drew a strip where the first half was read right-side up, and the second half was read in the same panels upside-down. Most cartoonists would have had a good time with this concept one time for a lark and then moved on. Verbeek explored this insane premise for over a year (October 1903- January 1905) before going on to other things.
His other major work, The Terrors of the Tiny Tads (1905-1915), is equally bizarre, full of weird creatures and strange (and frequently violent) situations. The conceits here are that they are told in rhyming verse, and that the creatures have names where they are made of two words running into each other… like the pelicantilope and the boa constrictortoise, for example. Both of these wondrous creatures are seen below in three rare strips I scanned for you to enjoy… click on the images to read the full strips.
From March 31, 1907:
From May 1, 1910:
From April 24, 1910:
Click here to see a whole lot more Terrors of the Tiny Tads at Barnacle Press.
Click here to the wikipedia entry on Verbeek, which has some good links about him.
Click here to read the lambiek.net entry on Gustave Verbeek.
UPDATE: Marco of nonsenselit.org was nice enough to point out that he has 3 examples of another great Verbeek strip, The Loony Lyrics of Lulu, here.
#122 Eric Drooker
Click the above image to read the full strip at the site I found it on.
Eric Drooker primarily does illustration and short comic work, but he has made a couple excellent graphic novels that I’m aware of, Flood! and Blood Song. Both are entirely silent. A non-cartoonist may assume that a silent comic is easier to pull off than a comic with words… after all, you don’t have to worry about writing dialogue. The opposite is actually true… without words, everything has to be communicated with the pictures, which is challenging and labor intensive. Drooker pulls it off wonderfully.
He has a lot in common with his contemporary Peter Kuper, who is also a master of the silent comic… they also share an affinity for expressionistic art. Drooker’s comic art is primarily done with ink on scratchboard, and generally feature stark blacks and whites… he also has a wonderful eye for color in his paintings, some of which can be seen on his website.
Visit Eric Drooker’s website here.
Click here to read the lambiek.net entry on Eric Drooker.
#123 Frederick Opper
Frederick Opper’s strips are probably the closest thing to slapstick on a comics page I’ve seen… the humor is usually physical, which often seems odd on a static comics page. For some reason, it works for Opper. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve had the chance to read a lot of Opper lately. If you’ve been enjoying them, you’ll want to watch for The Comics Journal #284 which will have a feature on Opper. Dirk Deppey on ¡Journalista! recently noted:
The Comics Journal #284, currently at the printer, will contain a generous selection from such Opper strips as Happy Hooligan, Alphonse and Gaston, and the aforementioned Maud, as well as a lengthy and informative essay on the pioneering cartoonist’s career by Jared Gardner.
Here are some other Opper strips from Coconino Classics.
Here are some other Opper strips at Barnacle Press.
Click here to read the lambiek.net entry on Frederick Opper.
#124 A.D. Condo
Why do I like A.D. Condo’s Outbursts of Everett True so much? Usually weighing in at a couple of panels, these strips generally are pretty predictable, really… in panel one some poor sap comes to the esteemed Mr. True’s attention with an unthinking affront to Mr. True’s acutely sensitive sensibilities, and in panel two Mr. True beats his victim soundly as he verbally berates him. It’s a simple recipe for a strip which Condo used for 22 years (1905 to 1927), much like Ignatz beaning Krazy Kat’s skull with a brick… but Krazy Kat this ain’t. It has much more in common with Punch and Judy. The nuances, subtleties, poetry, and variety of the Kat’s universe are entirely absent from Everett True. Everett True has all the subtlety of a lead umbrella. While there is some variation, it is rare, and usually in the form of Mr. True’s lovely wife giving him a beating. So why is it such a great strip?
To ask such a question would certainly earn one a wollop from Mr. True… “Lout! Simpleton! Can you not just enjoy the simple pleasures of the funnies without babbling such inane prattle from your flapping gob? Here, I’ll shut it for you!!!”
Good news for fellow fans of Everett True… this is the first of many Everett True strips I’ve scanned that will be appearing here.
Additionally, if you have a desire to draw your own interpretation of an Everett True strip and send it to me, I’d love to put it up for the internet for all to see with a link to your website or what have you. Send it to me at:
Click here to go to the Barnacle Press collection of Everett True strips by A.D. Condo
Click here to read about the lesser-known works of A.D. Condo at Barnacle Press.
Click here to read some samples of Mr. Skygack, From Mars by A.D. Condo at Barnacle Press.
Click here to read some samples of Diana Dillpickles by A.D. Condo at Barnacle Press.
Click here to read some samples of Duke Murphy by A.D. Condo at Barnacle Press.
Click here to the Toonopedia entry on Everett True
Click here to read about A.D. Condo at lambiek.net.
#125 Evan Dorkin
Click the above image to go to a larger version on the site I found it on.
Evan Dorkin’s probably best known for Milk and Cheese, the above pictured “Dairy Products Gone Bad.” Those strips are funny, although formulaic (as Dorkin certainly admits) and are best in small doses. I much prefer his varied strips in his ongoing comic Dork!. He’s not only consistently funny, but he frequently packs his pages with enough panels to make your eyes bleed and enough gags to make you seek the heimlich maneuver. My favorite comics I’ve read by him are his hilarious strips about the Eltingville Comic-Book, Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Role-Playing Club… which you should really not miss if you grew up obsessed with any of the subjects in the Eltingville club’s moniker.
Click here to go to Evan Dorkin’s (and Sarah Dyer’s) House of Fun website.
Click here to go to Evan Dorkin’s blog.
Click here to read the lambiek.net entry on Evan Dorkin.
#126 Dennis Eichhorn
Dennis Eichhorn is one of the few cartoonists on this list that doesn’t draw… his comics have been illustrated by many of the best cartoonists around, though. Eichhorn’s stories would still be engaging if they were drawn in crayon, however… he’s one of the most interesting autobiographical cartoonists around, largely because he has had the good fortune of living an extremely interesting life. Just thinking about his sloe gin and beer story still makes me laugh. Some of his excellent series Real Stuff was collected in the book pictured above a few years ago (I think it is out of print, but there appear to be a number of used copies available on amazon).
Click here to go to the lambiek.net entry on Dennis Eichhorn.
#127 Milt Gross
Click on the above image to see the full Count Screwloose strip I scanned from November 23, 1930. Rudy Megaphone is a satire of singer Rudy Vallee, by the way.
Milt Gross’ comics drip slapstick. I don’t think Milt Gross aspired to do much with his comics other than make people laugh… and he was very good at it. That said, he wrote what may be the first graphic novel, She Done Him Wrong (a.k.a. Heart of Gold… recently reprinted by Fantagraphics). I wish someone would do a nice big reprinting of his newspaper work. Don’t miss the ASIFA Hollywood Animation Archive link below… great stuff!
See a number of great scans of Milt Gross comics at the ASIFA Hollywood Animation Archive here.
See some Milt Gross comics on Bugpowder here.
Read the Toonopedia entry on Milt Gross here.
Read the Lambiek Biography of Milt Gross here.
#128 Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Drawn and Quarterly’s recent publishing of the work of Yoshihiro Tatsumi is a revelation (in two volumes so far edited by American cartoonist Adrian Tomine, The Push Man and Abandon the Old in Tokyo). This guy was an underground cartoonist in Japan around the same time as the underground cartoonists in America and Europe were getting started (although he was unaware of their work)… and he has a huge body of work going up to the present day. His artwork in the two D&Q volumes is gorgeous, and the stories are bizarre, entertaining and often disturbing. It’s thrilling to discover such a great cartoonist that I was totally unaware of. I look forward to reading more of his work.
Click here to read the lambiek.net entry on Yoshihiro Tatsumi.
#129 Dori Seda
Dori Seda told a lot of wild autobiographical stories & is among the most fun autobiographical cartoonists I’ve read. Wish she had lived longer! You can get her complete works in one unfortunately slim book, pictured above.
Go here to see the Dori Seda website.
Click here to read the lambiek.net entry on Dori Seda.
Click the above image to see the full-size version on the site I found it on.