Rebel Visions – Introduction by Patrick Rosenkranz

Distant Early Warnings

Paul Mavrides: “My earliest ‘art’ memory dates from when I was two, when I discovered that the contents of my diaper were suitable for the creation of a large-scale (to my child-sized point of view, anyway) mural on my grandmother’s hallway wall. I was told that my father had to spend several hours deconstructing this seminal work and was none too happy about the task (for reasons I didn’t fully comprehend at the time). I was strongly and physically encouraged by my family to switch to more traditional painting media.”

Justin Green:Captain Crow was the first comic book I ever saw. I saw it when I was four or five. I learned how to read and write by copying the blurbs over and over again. Somehow along the way I ingested a whole bunch of truisms about life. Captain Crow was a lot like Aesop’s Fables. It was a very moralistic comic and there was always a point to every story.”

Bobby London: “The first children’s book illustrator I remember seeing was W.W. Denslow and his pictures for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. My father brought home a biography of Frank Baum that reprinted the entire book. Denslow was my first exposure to print cartooning and it had a profound influence on me. Puppetry and animation got to me first, however, and early shows like Foodini; Kukla, Fran and Ollie; Rootie Kazootie; Howdy Doody; and especially Time for Beanie opened the door to the performing arts and got me stage-struck.”

Robert Crumb: “By the age of seven or eight, we had begun drawing our own comics, and that compelled us to study comics much more closely. Then the good stuff started to shine out! We were connoisseurs by age 11. By then it was obvious to us that most comics were hacked-out crap, boring, stupid. Outside of the really good storytellers like Carl Barks and John Stanley, there were only a few comics that attracted us. I liked Super Duck, which was completely wacko and still strikes me as imaginative and funny when I look at it today. I liked Nancy. I remember reading Nancy while sitting on the toilet.”

Jay Kinney: “I went to the pharmacy in our neighborhood where they carried Mad in their magazine rack and tried to buy a copy. But the pharmacist refused to sell it to me because it was for adults, and I was only eight at the time. So I complained to my father and thereafter he would go and buy me Mad each month, until I was old enough to convince the pharmacist that I deserved it.”

Jay Lynch: “I did a little book called The Vulgarmental when I was about nine or ten years old. There was a TV show called The Continental. It was this continental guy who’d come out in a smoking jacket and mix martinis and talk to the housewives in a real seductive voice. He’d say things like, ‘Have a little more champagne, my darling.’ My character would say things like, ‘My darling, I see you are growing a tail. Oh no, it is only the shit coming out of your ass.’ I passed this around to my friends. Somehow this kid Billy Sullivan wound up with it and his father was a cop. Billy Sullivan’s father showed me that he had found this Vulgarmental comic book in Billy’s possession and warned me never to do obscenity again or he’d arrest me.”

Jack Jackson: “I was raised on a farm, and being able to draw is the most totally useless trait in that kind of environment. It was always discouraged. There were people in my family that were artistic. They did things like go out and shoot birds and stuff them or paint pictures of them. That was acceptable, that was considered an innocent pastime. But scribbling in pads, filling Big Chief pads with little pictures of cowboys and Indians and all this…”

George Metzger: “Like a lot of kids who were into collecting comic books, my parents made me burn my collection. I collected a lot of newspaper strips and comic books, and they made me take them out to the incinerator and burn them. Two weeks later, I was right back at it. It didn’t work. It just made me feel ill towards my parents. It was a turning point for me and my parents.”

Skip Williamson: “My introduction to pre-Code comics came from my father’s younger brother, my uncle Bill Henry Williamson. He kept a stash of crime, range-rider and horror comics in a box under his bed. So when we’d visit my grandparents in Appomattox, I’d try to sneak a read or two. Also there was a teen-aged baby sitter who would look after me and my younger siblings who had a great cache of ECs that she would let me have free access to. The EC horror story that implanted itself most vividly in my unfledged psyche was one illustrated by Jack Davis featuring a baseball game where intestines were the baselines, a human heart was home plate and a head was the ball.”

S.Clay Wilson: “I asked my Mom one day, ‘When are we going to get a TV?’ She says, ‘draw your own pictures’ and threw me a crayon. I’ve been drawing ever since.”

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