Barefootz first saw the light of day in a one-shot, tabloid-format strip that I drew in 1970 for a short-lived local underground newspaper called The Birmingham Fool. His true debut as the star of an ongoing feature, however, took place the next year in the pages of the Crimson White, the student newspaper at the University of Alabama's Tuscaloosa campus. (I myself never attended the UofA, but I had connections!)

The pointy-haired title-character ended up dominating my cartooning life throughout the 1970s, and the feature's episodes between 1970 and 1973 were eventually compiled in Early Barefootz, a 1990 Fantagraphics book that went out of print a few years later. (A companion volume that would have compiled the rest of the Barefootz series was originally contemplated, but that idea was ultimately abandoned.)

My cartooning career and drawing style have gone in decidedly different directions since the last Barefootz emerged from my drawing board. And even though fresh copies of the book Early Barefootz haven't been available for decades now, I'm choosing to give it a shout-out now in honor of the formative role it played for me.

From the day it went national, Barefootz had ardent fans and vehement detractors, and I'm hardly qualified to judge which position had more merit. But there it sits, an undeniably important part of my history, and if you'd like to know more about Barefootz's strange life as one of the most unlikely underground character around, just click here.



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