Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Adam Rich Must Die!

If you were alive, and living in America during the latter half of the 1970s, you might well recall a brief publishing phenomenon known as the “photo-novel”, a sad attempt to package, in cheap paperback form, grainy, black and white stills from movies and television shows such as Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke, Battlestar Galactica and Mork and Mindy, with dialog balloons imposed, like the fumetti photo comics first made popular in the U.S. during the 1950s by Harvey Kurtzman and his crew of Mad alumni.
Having been the proud owner of all three above-mentioned literary photo classics, I was eventually inspired to parody their opportunistic and ungainly approach to story-telling, one which, as you can well imagine, required a great deal of pruning of any narrative substance the typical Dickensian episode of Mork and Mindy might have offered in its original incarnation.
The year was 1981. I was a young, seventeen year-old art student, already campaigning for my dismissal from the two-year institution that daily sucked away at my soul. As I had done throughout high school, I ignored almost all dictated assignments, instead busying myself with projects of my own inspiration. Many of these involved cartooning, of one form or the other. These back-of-the-room productions featured a stable of rotating characters, of which Billy Doom was a favorite. Billy was a beanie-topped little nightmare of anti-authoritarian fervor whose arch nemesis just happened to be Adam Rich, the marshmallow-faced child star of Eight is Enough, a show whose dying embers had then just about gone out.
The following unfinished masterpiece of disgruntled art student boredom, charmingly entitled Adam Rich Must Die!, stars Billy Doom, along with Rex, his sidekick dog (as played with commendable gusto by Mick Jagger), as well as cameos by everyone from Mad Max to Bob Parker, in a nonsensical story built upon a slapdash collage of photos, clip art, old comic book panels and my own simple cartooning. I present it now, in all its incomplete, abbreviated glory, as testament to the entirely stubborn nature of a young artist, one who managed to
fabricate amusement from the dregs of any given situation. Enjoy! –J.W.E.

PS Sorry about the abrupt ending. I’m sure you can apply your own imagination and find a suitable ending. Literally anything will do. That's by design.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Jack the Ripper Jr.

The following pages comprise the existing legacy of my earliest dabbling in the milieu of the underground comic. Created in 1978, these mostly artless, crude attempts at satisfying the adolescent desires of my fellow junior high art class students, feature Jack the Ripper Jr., an almost-cute update on the infamous London serial killer. A pot-bellied man-imp wielding a scimitar, who constantly delighted in chopping to bits a huge-breasted foil named Dolly (whose relationship to Dolly Parton was never in doubt), Jack Jr. eventually became more of a tough-talking doofus, a character I imagined would help make me the next Robert Crumb. Acting on this ambition, I bewilderingly included him in a package of “fan art” I submitted to The Comics Reader, an early fanzine mostly concerned with mainstream super hero comics. What they made of Jack I’ll never know, for they never replied, not surprisingly. For the full, shameful origin of this dastardly little terror, read I Was a Teenage Porn King.

I believe the above three pages were Jack’s first appearance, wherein he meets his buxom nemesis/eternal victim, Dolly – on the beach, no less, towel-to-towel. Yes, they met “cute”.

In these two, Jack does his best to explain that’s he’s really just “regular folks” after all. Nice try, Jack.

Here Jack gets his very first (and I believe only) ink treatment, a fine dressing up intended for publication in the 70s fanzine, The Comics Reader.

And finally, here’s Jack’s next appearance, nearly thirty years(!) later, as a one-shot update cartoon in Seattle’s The Stranger. He finally acquired some semblance to actual “cuteness”. Clearly, I’m getting soft in my old age.